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Agri-Tech in China: Newton Network+ Small Project Awards

Summary

The Agri-Tech in China: Newton Network+ (ATCNN) will invest 1.3M in support of Small Project and larger Research & Development projects to support the development of innovative solutions to address critical challenges impacting the socio-economic growth of Chinas agri-tech and agri-food sectors. ATCNN specifically seeks to translate UK excellence in satellite imaging, remote sensing, smart sensors, robotics and data-intensive science into new solutions for productivity and sustainability in rural China.

Small Project Awards will run for up to four months and attract up to 30,000 in total contribution from the ATCNN, at an intervention rate of 80% of total eligible costs.

Deadline for applications: 17:00 (BST) on Friday 15 September 2017

Small Project Awards will assist UK Business and academic stakeholders to:

1. Work, either individually or collaboratively, with other industrial or research organisations on initial exchanges and studies, and prior to embarking on more substantive projects.

2. Develop more in-depth evidence to demonstrate a Small Project for innovations that addresses specific challenges relating to the Chinese agri-tech/agri-food sectors and deliver viable and sustainable soultions for the end-users of these communities.

Small Project awards are intended to ensure that data, technology and modelling pipelines are appropriate to de-risk larger investments in data-intensive innovation projects. They should help integrate activity across agri-food value chains and include a range of relevant stakeholders. Proof of concept projects should aim to demonstrate the potential of an idea to impact on Chinese agriculture and to develop a pathway to impact e.g through a self-sustaining mechanism including, but not limited to, a commercialised product or service.

Projects must be led by either a UK business or a UK research organisation and should aim to develop solutions relevant to Chinas agri-tech and agri-food sectors taking into account the translation of the knowledge generated and demonstrating a clear route to delivery in China.

Although only UK-based organisations are eligible for the funding available through this competition, applicants are encouraged to co-develop their proposals with Chinese partners. Projects that attract actual or in-kind support from Chinese partners will be given priority.

The lead partner in the UK must submit a single application on behalf of all participants by email to ATCNN@Rothamsted.ac.uk. Applications must be submitted using the form which is available on our webpage www.rothamsted.ac.uk/china/ATCNN.

This programme is funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills though the Newton Fund with support from the Science and Technologies Facilities Council. Rothamsted Research is the lead partner in the consortium managing the programme, which also includes the University of East Anglia, University of Edinburgh, University of Reading and the Scottish Rural College. The ATCNN will run multiple calls for Small Project Awards, but kindly note specific deadlines will be announced and adhered to for each call.

Additional information is supplied in the associated documents for this call, but if further information is required please contact the ATCNN Programme Manager at ATCNN@rothamsted.ac.uk

ATCNN Small Project Awards C Guidance for Applicants

Background

The Agri-Tech in China: Newton Network+ (ATCNN) was established in response to challenges facing the agri-tech /agri-food sectors in China and the existence of complementary expertise and capacity to address these challenges in the UK. China is rapidly modernising its agricultural sector to feed its 1.4 billion population in the context of changing dietary patterns, increasing urbanization, water shortages, environmental degradation and an uncertain future climate. The Central Government has implemented a strategy that requires China to remain self-sufficient in staples and mandates no further increase in inputs to agriculture from 2020 to reduce the environmental footprint of the sector.

The UK is in a strong position to play an important role in helping China progress to smarter and more sustainable agricultural systems C ensuring its food security, while opening up huge opportunities for economic growth. ATCNN seeks to translate UK excellence in satellite imaging, remote sensing, smart sensors, robotics and data-intensive science into new solutions for productivity and sustainability in rural China. ATCNN will seek to support projects and activities that bring together business with academia and end-users across the UK and China through joint development of innovative products, processes or services for solutions to become self-sustaining.

The ATCNN is managed by a consortium led by Rothamsted Research and which also includes the University of East Anglia, the University of Edinburgh, the University of Reading and the Scottish Rural College. The fund administered by these partners is provided by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills under the Newton Fund with support from the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). The ATCNN has an extensive network involving a wide range of stakeholders in the UK and China and will provide a platform and support for further networking and engagement with this network for those involved in ATCNN awards. For example:

The CAU is the leading Agricultural University in China and enjoys extensive national and international networks. CAU has developed the Science and Technology Backyard (STB) network, as a means to translate research in to use, in villages across 20 provinces since 2009, with a total of 81 nodes by the end of 2015. This network includes major agricultural universities, local agricultural extension agencies, agricultural companies focusing on agrochemicals, UAV, IT, earth observations, small, medium and large scale farms, cereal, fruit and vegetable production and farmer cooperatives. The STB has been adopted as the means to transform agricultural practice across China by the Central Government. It provides a critical mechanism for translating innovation to practice change on the ground and is therefore a central delivery resource for projects under the ATCNN.

Rothamsted Research, the University of Reading and SRUC are founding partners of Agrimetrics, the new UK Agri-Tech Centre for Excellence in Agricultural Informatics and Metrics of Sustainability. Agrimetrics includes a Network of Excellence of UK research organisations and is linked to more than 200 businesses to support data-driven innovation that integrates across the food chain. Data management and integration is essential for operational coordination across the ATCNN programme to ensure projects deliver maximum impact and synergies. As such the services of Agrimetrics (http://www.agrimetrics.co.uk/) will also be available to projects awarded under ATCNN to support access to globally relevant data sets and provision for data integration and sharing. Applicants should discuss their needs with Agrimetrics prior to submission and ensure any costs are included in their applications.

Scope / research areas

The ATCNN seeks to develop solutions that draw on the UKs core strengths in satellite imaging, remote sensing, smart sensors, robotics and data-intensive science to help Chinese farmers increase productivity and resilience. The proposed interventions must fall within two broad areas:

1. Remote sensing, Earth Observation (EO), Big Data processing and modelling

Application of remote sensing and big data technologies should focus on:

Exploiting Chinese, UK and European Earth observation data to provide new information products and services

Linking EO-derived with other forms of data from Internet of Things, in-situ monitoring networks and government and/or industry held data

Advanced modelling and data integration techniques

Innovation and advancement from the current state-of-the art could come from:

Novel platforms: such as small satellite constellations, UAVs and airships

Novel instrumentation: such as spectrometers or fluorescence imaging

Novel algorithms for image processing or data integration

2. Robotics and autonomous systems

Application of novel technical solutions that show high potential for addressing any of the themes below. This includes using autonomous systems that were originally developed for space applications:

Robotic rovers, Unmanned Ariel Vehicles (fixed wing, rotary systems and airships) to help in field monitoring of the crop, soil and micro-climate

Precision guidance and autonomous navigation

Imaging, computer vision and advanced in situ sensors

Research proposals must address the overarching themes described below through the innovative use of the space enabled technologies described above.

Examples of needs identified in China include, but are not limited to:

- Data analytics and support tools to reduce residue levels in food;

- Regional yield benchmarking through remote sensing;

- Data-intensive science that supports whole-of-food-chain efficiency, productivity and resilience

- Productivity scaling solutions to enable precision seeding, planting, fertilizer application etc.;

- Harvesting systems that incorporate a variety of cutting

-edge technologies such as Satellite Imaging (SI), Geographical Information Systems (GIS), Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), Global Positioning Systems (GPS);

- Remote Sensing (RS) including Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV);

- Internet of Things (IoT); - Ground-based robotic systems; and

- Mobile and tablet compliant systems.

We welcome creative approaches and encourage applications from the agri-tech sector as well as from adjacent sectors where there may be value in transferring technologies and approaches to solve challenges in agriculture.

Small Project Awards should:

- Describe and address a specific challenge for the agri-tech / agri-food sector in China;

- Develop and evaluate innovations that address these challenges and which may translate to self-sustaining solutions on the ground.

Eligibility

The ATCNN Small Project Awards are open UK academic and UK business organisations. UK partners are encouraged to identify and where relevant engage a Chinese partner organization.

Lead Applicants must:

- Be either a business registered in the UK or a research organisation registered in the UK;

- Demonstrate the operational and financial capacity to carry out and deliver the proposed work.

Pathfinder and Proof of Concept Awards

Small Projects Awards combine and replace the Pathfinder and Proof of Concept Awards of the previous ATCNN call in October 2016. Activities earlier included in Pathfinders (people exchange) should now be submitted to the Small Project Awards.

Application process for Small Project Awards

Applications must be submitted using the application form supplied in the downloads section and adhere to the instructions therein. Applications must be submitted by email to ATCNN@Rothamsted.ac.uk by 17:00 (BST) on Friday 15 September 2017

Applications must comply with ODA rules and guidelines: http://www.rcuk.ac.uk/documents/ international/odaguidancercukspecific-pdf and must also:

- Demonstrate the application and development of innovative science and technology from the UK

C in satellite imaging, remote sensing, smart sensors, robotics and data-intensive science;

- Address sector needs as articulated by a specific Chinese community of users or researchers, and demonstrate engagement with that group;

- Demonstrate a clear route to self-sustaining delivery (e.g. through commercialisation) of the proposed product(s) or service(s).

- Clearly demonstrate the application and development of innovative science and technology, and/or plans for the translation of research, products, services and/or knowledge for the social and economic betterment of the Chinese agri-tech/ agri-food sector.

- Demonstrate plans for the translation of research, products, services and/or knowledge for the social and economic betterment of the Chinese agri-tech/ agri-food sector.

- Exploit UK strengths in data analytics and support tools, remote sensing, modelling, satellite imaging, internet of things, unmanned aerial vehicles, ground-based robotic systems, mobile- and tablet-compliant systems.

Finances

Small Project Awards will be for up to 30,000 and be delivered over a relatively short time frame (up to four months). The intervention rate is for up to 80% of the eligible costs (i.e. 80% of the full economic costs [FEC] including VAT if appropriate). Priority will be given to projects that leverage additional cash or in-kind contributions (including staff time), particularly from Chinese partners.

In principle ATCNN will broadly adopt the guidelines as outlined by STFC regarding eligible costs http://www.stfc.ac.uk/research-grants-handbook/. However, for Small Project awards eligible costs are likely to be restricted to the following criteria:

A. Staff salaries

B. Travel & subsistence

C. Equipment*

D. Consumables

E. Sub-contracting / services

F. Indirect costs**

* Equipment values may be no more than 19.8% of the total and such capital items should be included as directly incurred costs. Equipment purchased using ATCNN funds must be primarily for use on the project for which the research grant was awarded and should be appropriately justified in the application form. Equipment purchases are expected to occur within the first month of commencing a Small Project award.

** indirect costs (overheads, estate costs etc.) may be included up to the equivalent of 25% of staff costs.

Evaluation criteria and assessment process

An independent peer review panel has been set up to assess applications to the ATCNN. Applications will be independently reviewed and assessed for suitability of funding according to the criteria below. The panel will make a recommendation to the ATCNN as to which projects should be funded according to how well they have met the assessment criteria. Financial and Operational capacity and budgetary restrictions will then be taken into account ahead of a final decision as to how many projects will be funded.

The following criteria will be used to assess the proposals:

- How well the case for support addresses specific challenge faced by the agri-tech and agri-food sectors in China: 40%

- The capabilities and track record of the proposed UK (and Chinese teams): 30%

- The potential social, environmental and economic impact of the proposed work: 20%

- Value for money- including consideration of in-kind contributions: 10%

Reporting Requirements

Successful appplicants to the Small Project Awards will be required to:

- Produce a 15-20 page final project report (depending on project size), as well as other materials during the project period to support communications. Further details will be provided as to the structure and content of the required report and materials at the time of award.

- Deliver a presentation to the ATCNN management team outlining the projects results and potential for future application and impact from the solutions developed.

- Attendance and presentation at an ATCNN workshop in China. At least one team member must attend the workshop. Costs associated with attending this meeting should be included within the costings of the Small Project application.

 

 

Agri-Tech in China: Newton Network+ Small Projects Awards Application Form

Note: Proposals not conforming to the structure below (i.e. using the same headings and following the format guidelines) will be considered ineligible for funding. Please refer to the Guidance Document for additional information.

Formatting Guidelines: 11pt Calibri, 2cm margins all round.

  1. UK partner information

Legal Name of organisation

 

 

Organisation registration number &

VAT number

 

Full address

 

 

Website address

 

 

Name of key contact

 

 

Position of contact in the organisation

 

 

Email address for key contact

 

 

Phone number for key contact

 

 

Area of interest / expertise

 

 

 

  1. Chinese partner information

Legal Name of organisation

 

 

Full address

 

 

Website address

 

 

Name of key contact

 

 

Position of contact in the organisation

 

 

Email address for key contact

 

 

Phone number for key contact

 

 

Area of interest / expertise

 

 

 

If additional partners are involved, please copy and compete the relevant table above for each partner.

 

  1. Public Description of the proposed project - Maximum 200 words.

Please provide a short summary of the proposed activity suitable for public release. Include the intended end-user(s) and the potential solutions to be considered as part of this initial study including the geographical areas to be served by the project.

 

 

 

  1. Case for support - Maximum 800 words

Please outline the case for your proposal under the following headings:

A) The specific challenge faced by the agri-tech and agri-food sectors in China

 

 

B) Your proposed solution to this challenge

 

 

  1. Objectives, activities and results - Maximum 700 words

Please outline the main activities you will undertake, listing specific outputs, indicating timeframes and the specific objectives each activity addresses.

 

 

 

  1. Capabilities and track record - Maximum 300 words

Please provide a brief overview of the track record and expertise each team brings to the project.

 

 

  1. Impact - Maximum 300 words

Please describe the potential social, environmental and economic impact of the proposed work taking into account how the project complies with ODA rules and guidelines:

 

 

 

  1. Justification of Resources - Maximum 300 words

Please provide a values and a justification for the funding requested by the UK partners as per the following headings (where appropriate).

 

Category

Actual cost

80% intervention

Brief description/ justification of funds requested

A

Staff costs

 

B

Travel & subsistence

 

C

Equipment (up to 19.8% of total C to a maximum of 9.9k)

 

D

Consumables

 

E

Subcontracting

 

F

Indirect costs (up to 25% of staff cost value).

 

G

Total requested

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Background and value of committed resources - Maximum 500 words

Please briefly describe:

 

A in-kind contribution or resources to be committed by the UK partners or additional external support (associated grants, industry awards etc.) relevant to the activities proposed.

 

 

B in-kind contribution or resources to be committed by the CN partners or additional external support (associated grants, industry awards etc.) relevant to the activities proposed.

 

 

 

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