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Defra Homepage > Defra Farming and Food Science > LINK Programme Overview

Defra Farming and Food Science: Farming and Food LINK Programmes Overview

LINK is a means by which the Government encourages collaborative research for innovative and industrially-relevant research to support its wealth creation and quality of life goals. Because of its relevance to industry and the collaborative nature of the work, this is an area which is given priority for sponsorship. Currently, Defra provides grants for approximately £5 Million of research per year to various consortia in five Farming and Food Science LINK programmes. Research projects funded through LINK form an integral of the sustainable farming and food science R&D portfolio. Through LINK, Defra provides grants to consortia of the private sector and the research base to conduct research for industrial or private sector purposes aligned to Defra objectives.

For standard LINK contracts, Government support is available to a maximum of 50% of the total project costs. While Defra is the major sponsor of the programmes covered here, funding is also provided by other Government departments.
A requirement for support is that Government contributions are matched by an equivalent contribution - cash and/or in-kind - from industrial partners. Financial support from industry partners is matched 50:50 by Government. The exception to this rule applies to feasibility and development LINK grants, where the contributions could be as low as 25% or as high as 75%. These studies are designed to precede or follow a 50:50 LINK project.
All LINK programmes seek to promote exploitation of public research innovation for the benefit of the industry, assuring deliverables that can make a difference and within a specified time frame. Projects aim to deliver high quality pre-commercial research with significant potential for commercial exploitation through a consortium structured to provide an eventual route to market and to ensure uptake and impact. The pre-commercial R&D needs to be sound, innovative and fit for purpose. Projects are likely to focus on areas of market failure and/or carry a level of risk such that industry is unlikely to fund the research without the support from the LINK Scheme.
LINK is an excellent way for small and medium-sized businesses to take an active part in research projects of direct relevance to them. Project participants range from large multiple retailers and agrochemical companies to small manufacturers of specialist instruments and machinery and individual farmers and growers as well as industry levy bodies.


Food LINK aims to accelerate the commercial exploitation of Government funded research and focuses on advances in science and engineering that have particular commercial promise. The initiative stimulates collaboration between partners from industry and the research community.

LINK is collaborative pre-commercial research linking industry and the science base - typically - 50% Government funded. From 1st June 2008, the Food Quality and Innovation (FQI) LINK programme was amalgamated with the Advanced Food Manufacturing LINK programme.

For further information on the active programme areas:

Advanced Food Manufacture

Guidance on how to apply for Food LINK funding can be found here.

Horticulture LINK

Horticulture LINK is a pre-commercial research programme aimed at supporting the sustainability of the home horticulture industry, integrated with wider environmental and consumer interests. It has resulted in the partnering of more than 170 companies and 30 research organisations through 40 practically-focussed project awards.

Horticulture LINK projects use robust science to solve key problems ranging from tackling pests and diseases to improving the supply and quality of fresh produce, reducing environmental pollution and reducing the costs of production.

Opportunities for LINK Research in Support of the Organic Sector

Organic LINK Research is made possible through the existing LINK Programmes.

Renewable Materials LINK

The New Renewable Materials LINK Programme, sponsored by BBSRC and Defra, was launched on 3 November 2005 at the National Non-Food Crops Centre.

Sustainable Arable LINK

The Sustainable Arable LINK Programme facilitates government financial support of consortia of industry and academia collaborating to deliver high quality pre-commercial research for their members which will further the sustainable development of the arable sector. It includes potatoes and organic systems.

SA LINK projects are aligned with Government sponsor polices in one or more of the following areas: improving the resource productivity of UK agriculture; promoting sustainable, diverse, modern and adaptable farming; improving the rural economy; and enhancing biodiversity and the rural environment.

Sustainable Livestock Production LINK

The Sustainable Livestock Production LINK programme is jointly sponsored by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the National Assembly of Wales through Defra and the Scottish Executive Environment & Rural Affairs Department (SEERAD) with further support on a project-by-project basis from Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for Northern Ireland (DARDNI).

The aim of the programme is to initiate collaborative, pre-commercial research and technological development projects so that UK livestock production can become increasingly sustainable - with due regard to cost of production, animal health and welfare, environmental concerns, and product quality - thereby contributing to both the wealth and the Health of the Nation. (The Health of the Nation: A Consultative Document for Health in England. HMSO. London. 1991.)
  Page last modified: 21/07/2008
Page created: 15/03/2004
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