Call Guidance for Seeding Award Proposals

Three seedlings

Total Fund: £475K

Eligible Activities: New collaborations on food safety between researchers and food businesses that can be delivered by 16 February 2024. Activities can include small to medium sized collaborative research projects that are demonstrational or translational, or events that support the formation of functional communities and partnerships that are pursing knowledge exchange, new capabilities, or new funding models. For successful projects, eligible costs can be backdated from 31 October 2023.

Project Budget: £5K to £50K (100% FEC)

Opening Date: 31 October 2023

Closing Date: 14 November 2023 (17:00)

Decision made: 22 November (anticipated)

Project start date: 31 October 2023 (costs can be recovered from this date for successful projects)

Award completion date: no later than 16 February 2024

Indicative reporting deadline: 16 April 2024

How can I apply?

  • Applications for the Food Safety Research Network Seeding Award have now closed

What is this opportunity

The UK Food Safety Research Network is a community connecting partners across food industry, academia and government to consider and apply science to improve the safety of foods in the UK.

This BBSRC and FSA co-funded network looks to address microbial risk in the food chain, with the goal of introducing new capability, knowledge or skills to help reduce these risks.

BBSRC has made additional funding available to support this seeding award funding opportunity is to establish novel and translational collaborations between partners exploring shared challenges, to identify promising areas of impactful activities, and to achieve our ambition of establishing a longer term sustainable collaborative network. To achieve this goal we invite applications to our streamlined assessment for cross-sector and/or cross-disciplinary projects centred around the following food safety challenges and opportunities to:

  • Enable innovation-focused research activities at leading UK Research Organisations with a strategic interest in food safety to improve the security and resilience of the UK’s food system.
  • Strengthen collaboration between the UK’s world-class bioscience research base and businesses engaged in food and drink processing and manufacturing.
  • Enable activities to de-risk and test potential solutions for food safety challenges progressing the research to a point where companies can justify further investments.
  • Prepare the bioscience research base for further investment in a thematic area of strategic importance to the UK and to relevant public funders including BBSRC, Innovate UK and FSA.

Further information concerning these priorities can be found below.

Who is this for?

Funding is available for current Food Safety Research Network members and must represent a novel collaboration between an academic lead applicant eligible to receive BBSRC funding AND at least one non-academic partner.

Join the Food Safety Research Network for free.

Multiple academic and non-academic partners are encouraged where it benefits the project. We would consider the introduction of a new partner to an existing collaboration to be within the scope of this call. The lead awardee must be the UKRI-eligible organisation and will receive the award and be responsible for the onwards dispersal of any funding to partners, where relevant.

We have a very broad view on who can impact the safety of foods, and the Network welcomes project ideas from partnerships formed from across the food sector:

  • from primary producers to distributors to retailers; and
  • from academic researchers that have expertise in areas such as microbiology, data sciences, and social and economic sciences; and
  • from government and policy organisations that have roles in food regulation and the establishment and training on best practices.

Contact the Network management team for further information on eligibility.

What types of projects are we interested in?

The following activities will be funded through this Seeding Award:

  • Characterisation studies – microbial sampling, chemical analysis, generating lab sample material, and experimental material to support future innovation focused research projects.
  • Feasibility trials – small scale trials of potential solutions or food safety interventions to demonstrate feasibility of an idea or approach.
  • Proof of Concept studies – early-stage investigation of the suitability and potential benefits of a product, process or service to demonstrate proof of concept.
  • Capability building – pre-work, including acquisition of materials to enable preliminary trials, and development of techniques or technologies.
  • Community building – studies, workshops, and consultation activities to understand industrial and regulatory needs and to identify opportunities and challenges.
  • Demonstration activities – enabling potential users to understand the benefits of novel ideas, technologies or approaches. This could include initial product design, developing virtual demonstrations, mock-ups, and models.
  • Partnership building – UK and International – activities to identify partners and visits to gather knowledge about current practices, potential interventions, and proposed management strategies.
  • Business case development – gathering evidence to de-risk further investment in targeted translational activities for food safety.
  • Undertaking initial desk-based market research – this could include early-stage user intelligence to de-risk future innovation focused research.

Seeding Awards cannot be used to support

  • Generic translation activities or infrastructure.
  • Patent filing or similar costs associated directly to registering intellectual property rights.
  • Non-specific public engagement activities and science communication, however specific activities designed to have specific impact upon a specific public may be acceptable.

How much and what resource is available in this round of applications?

£475K is available in this call and we anticipate funding a portfolio of awards at different sizes and scales, focused on a variety of opportunities. Awards will be made at 100% full economic cost to the lead research organisation under standard UKRI research grant terms and conditions. All awards will be made and funds distributed by Quadram Institute Bioscience (QIB) in its role as coordinator of the Food Safety Research Network.

To support development of project ideas, under a non-committal basis, it is acceptable that a notional budget (e.g., estimated total resource requirement) is included in the project application. If selected, detailed budgets will be required by 1 December 2023

Funding requirements specific to this call are:

  • Awards will be paid in arrears at 100% FEC to the lead awardee. The lead awardee will be responsible for disseminating funds to other partners on their award.
  • Equipment (of any cost) is not an eligible cost.
  • A maximum 20% of costs may be subcontracted, however, facility access charges can be included outside this limit.
  • In-kind contributions are encouraged but not mandated from project members and should be described in the application form, with in-kind contributions expected for access to facilities, some staff time, and use of existing infrastructure.

In all other regards, eligible costs align with usual BBSRC requirements. Please contact the Network management team to clarify the status of any costs if you are not sure.

How will applications be assessed?

All applications will be assessed by a review panel comprising key stakeholders in the Network. The panel will consider each proposals strengths against three scoring criteria:

  1. Strategic fit – does the proposed activity align with the objectives of the call?
  2. Delivery – will the proposed approach efficiently and effectively deliver against its stated aims?
  3. Impact – will the project deliver near term and sustained impact aligned with the priorities of the call?

These criteria will be used to assess and determine proposals to be funded within the available budget for this call. We reserve the right to request further information from applicants to support decision making.


The closing date for all applications was 17:00 14 November 2023.

The provisional date for the assessment meeting is week commencing 20 November 2023. Applicants will be notified of the outcome of their application soon after this meeting to enable awards to begin as soon as possible.

All activities supported through this opportunity must conclude by 16 February 2024.


All applicants will be required to complete a brief report detailing the outcomes and impact of their activities on conclusion. The reporting deadline is Thursday 18 April 2024.

Given the constricted operational timelines, we will continue with a light-touch approach with sub-awardees and organise videoconferences during the project to discuss status of key project milestones, activities with partners, and project barriers. Nearer to the close of each project we follow-up with awardees to identify project highlights and possible impact narratives, for inclusion on the Research page of the FSRN website.

Read our Frequently Asked Questions about the Seeding Award Funding Call