Lincolnshire and north Cambridgeshire global innovation centre

Lincam Ceres Agri-TechUniversities of Lincoln and Cambridge win £4.9m EPSRC award 

Funding to boost drive to make region a global innovation centre for agri-tech 


The Universities of Lincoln and Cambridge have been awarded a £4.9 million grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to help fund their drive to make the Lincolnshire and north Cambridgeshire (LINCAM) region a global innovation centre for agricultural technology (agri-tech). 

The LINCAM region is already a major UK production centre for crop-based agriculture and the associated supply chain. Its significance and sheer scale has led to the establishment of a nationally renowned agri-tech cluster – centred on the Universities of Lincoln and Cambridge, where interdisciplinary agri-food innovation is focused on digital technologies, including robotics and artificial intelligence, to boost productivity. 

Now the hope is that the Place Based Impact Acceleration Account (PBIAA) award from the EPSRC – the main funding body for engineering and physical sciences research in the UK – will deliver a step change in activity. The aim is for the LINCAM region to become an agri-tech gateway for the world – enabling the development of technologies at industrial scale and providing export opportunities for agri-tech companies and inward investment opportunities within both the agri-tech and primary production sectors. 

Simon Pearson, founding director of the Lincoln Institute of Agri-Food Technology at the University of Lincoln, said: "The LINCAM agricultural sector supports 88,000 jobs, generates gross value added (GVA) of £3.8 billion and farms more than 50% of the UK's grade 1 land. However, despite this scale, there are still significant challenges and opportunities. 

"Food production accounts for 24% of all UK greenhouse gas emissions, leads to significant biodiversity losses and drives challenging social issues – not least from seasonal worker influxes to rural communities. In addition, farmers are under relentless cost pressures which are eroding supply chain equity and local economies. 

"These challenges are acute across the LINCAM region but this funding award offers an opportunity to harness agri-tech to secure sustainable growth, bringing high-value and skilled jobs to the region, whilst mitigating the serious environmental impacts of the food production system." 

The University of Lincoln has a long track record of agri-tech collaboration with the University of Cambridge and its commercialisation arm Cambridge Enterprise. Their work has included the setting up of Agriforwards CDT – the world's first EPSRC centre for doctoral training (CDT) in agri-food robotics. LINCAM will build on the success of their Ceres Agri-Tech partnership with three other leading UK universities and three renowned agricultural research institutes. Ceres, funded by Research England, provides translational funding and commercialisation expertise to drive agri-tech innovation by accelerating high-quality research to market. It has launched four agri-tech spin-out companies to date and created 13 licensing opportunities. 

LINCAM will broaden participation in the cluster by offering access to the EPSRC funding to all UK higher education institutes involved in agri-tech research with the potential to drive economic and environmental or social sustainability in the region. Projects that are successful in securing a share of the funding will be actively mentored by the LINCAM team to accelerate the delivery of results. 

Professor Miles Padgett, interim executive chair at EPSRC, said: "I’m pleased to announce our first ten Place Based Impact Acceleration Accounts which will play a unique role in enhancing the capabilities of innovation clusters across the UK. A key priority for UKRI is to strengthen clusters and partnerships in collaboration with civic bodies and businesses, thereby driving regional economic growth." 

The civic bodies involved in the LINCAM partnership include the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership, the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority and West Lindsey District Council. 


February 2024  

The LINCAM Ceres Agri-Tech cluster is pleased to announce that a new round of funding opportunities is now open for researchers from UK universities and EPSRC approved research technology organisations. 

If you need to develop your agri-tech innovation or get proof-of-concept data to start commercialising your agri-tech innovation, we want to hear from you. 

Ranging from £5,000 to £150,000 funded to charity/IAA rules(no FEC), our LINCAM Ceres Agri-tech awards support the commercialisation of crop- related agri-tech innovations, e.g. through proof-of-principle work, prototype development or field trials. Proposals are assessed based on a pitch to the Ceres Investment Committee,  with prompt decision making.  

In this February 2024 Call, LINCAM Ceres Agri-Tech is seeking Expressions of Interest for EPSRC scope technologies that will significantly improve crop production in the LINCAM region (Greater Lincolnshire and North Cambridgeshire Fens) and which have the potential for global impact. 

We have particular interest in technologies that address the following priorities for the crop production sector in the LINCAM area: 

  • Facilitate the transition to Net Zero crop production, e.g. through addressing energy efficiency and supporting the transition to sustainable energy sources; 
  • Enable better sustainable soil and water management; 
  • Increase labour productivity in intensive crop production. 

There are two award streams 

  • LINCAM Ceres Agri-Tech Project Award ranging from £20,000 to £150,000 (no FEC) 

Proposals are assessed by a pitch to the Ceres Investment Committee. 

Interested? Please submit a completed Expression of Interest form to info@ceresagritech.orgno later than close of play on Tuesday 2nd April 2024. Ceres can help to develop your idea and pitch deck. 

For further information, visit our dedicated web pages at LINCAM Ceres Agri-Tech. 


April 2024 – LINCAM Ceres Agri-Tech

The LINCAM Ceres Agri-Tech cluster is pleased to announce that calls for Projects Awards and Proof of Concept Awards are now open for applications from Lincoln and Cambridge University Researchers and UK HEIs and EPSRC approved RTOs.

The awards are designed to support the translation and commercialisation of crop based agri-tech research using the established Ceres Agri-Tech approach.

There are two streams:

Lincam Ceres Agri-Tech funds impact delivery of agri-tech innovations that support the regions’ crop based production sector and its supply chains in terms of concurrent economic, environmental, and/or social benefits.

Projects must be more than 50 per cent in EPSRC scope (e.g. AI, robotics companies, digital plant breeding, net zero engineering etc) and are funded with IAA rules (no FEC).

Proposals are assessed by a pitch to the Ceres Investment Committee.

If you are interested, please submit a completed Expression of Interest form for either a Proof of Concept Award or Project Award or a  to no later than the end of business on 29 May 2024. Ceres can help to develop your idea and pitchdeck.

April 2024 – Agri-Tech Global

Agri-Tech Global: April 2024 Funding Calls Open for Universities of Lincoln, Cambridge, and East Anglia. Find out more.

Agri-Tech Global is a novel mechanism designed to translate UK agri-tech research and build international academic and commercial links for partner Universities, Lincoln, Cambridge, and UEA, to facilitate commercialisation and is funded by Research England.

Award Types

Agri-Tech Global is heavily focused on research translation and will support academic teams from the three partner universities to develop and commercialise their agri-tech innovations using the established Ceres Agri-Tech model.

We will support impact delivery for plant agri-tech technologies, such as plant or crop sciences, as well as robotics, chemistry, computer science, etc, which support the crop-based production sector and its supply chains in Lincolnshire and the East of England.

Projects must be internationally collaborative, preferably with universities or businesses from the US, Australia, or the Netherlands. Our secondary aim is to build international links that may enhance the economy and society in the Greater Lincolnshire and East Anglian region.

For further information, please visit our dedicated web pages at Lincam Ceres Agri-Tech.

Contact Us

Lincoln Institute for Agr-Food Technology
University of Lincoln
Riseholme Park