Innovation fund supporting nurseries to increase and diversify domestic tree supply.
Applies to England
About the fund
The government aims to at least treble tree planting rates in England by 2025, and has set legally binding targets to increase tree and woodland cover to 16.5% of total land area by 2050. Meeting these targets domestically will require a corresponding increase in UK production of tree planting material. The Tree Production Innovation Fund (TPIF) is looking to support projects with outputs that will better equip nurseries to supply the trees required for tree planting of all kinds as outlined in the England Trees Action Plan (including woodland creation, planting of trees outside of woods, urban planting, and agro-forestry).
The TPIF has been designed to encourage the development and adoption of new technologies and ways of working that will enhance the quantity and quality of tree planting stock available for planting in England, and to ensure genetically diverse material from a wide range of species and provenances is available. This will ensure that we are able to support the England Trees Action Plan (ETAP) ambitions to plant treescapes that are resilient to stresses including climate change and pests and diseases.
The Tree Production Innovation Fund is now open for applications. New to the 2022 offer, applicants will be able to submit proposals spanning up to two financial years (ending March 2025). Projects can be valued at up to £200K per year and must address one or more of the following challenges identified through stakeholder engagement as barriers to tree production.
Challenge 1: How can we make better use of available seed and vegetative planting material to maximise the quantity, quality and diversity of trees produced?
A variety of issues can lead to a low conversion rate of seed and vegetative material to trees for planting. Forest Reproductive Materials (FRM) are in limited supply, and it is vital that we maximise the efficient use of the supplies available.
seed quality encompasses purity, viability and health of the batch. Optimised techniques for tree seed harvesting, processing, screening, and storage all have potential to improve quality and biosecurity of seed made available to nurseries
even viable seed can be very hard to germinate and successfully establish, especially for the many tree species which have deeply dormant seed. Projects might seek to develop enhanced treatments such as priming which can enhance synchronicity and speed of germination. Seed coatings and pelleting can modify seed shape and size (which can facilitate use of machinery in seed processing and nurseries) and deliver beneficial compounds from nutrients to pesticides
enhancing the diversity of tree species and provenances available for planting will present specific challenges. Some of the species which are not commonly available in tree nurseries at present may present particular germination, propagation and establishment difficulties which may require the adoption of new techniques and approaches. In particular, we would encourage proposals that demonstrate potential to facilitate or overcome barriers to broadleaf production
development and management of seed sources are vital for the ongoing supply of tree seeds. Innovation in development of seed orchards and seed stands might include development or application of tree breeding approaches to deliver certain traits to market, or innovation in the development, planting, growth, management or harvesting of seed stands and orchards.
Challenge 2: How can we develop growing systems to enhance their efficiency and resilience to change, whilst delivering improved quality and diversity of product? This challenge can include activities to promote biosecurity.
Nurseries face sometimes contradictory challenges to enhance quantity of tree planting stock, whilst also enhancing quality and diversity. This is exacerbated by several other key challenges facing the sector. Exploring alternative novel growing systems has the potential to significantly enhance the quantity, quality and diversity of trees produced whilst better managing key inputs.
labour supply issues are identified by tree nurseries as limiting to productivity. Automation such as systems for pricking out or grading is evident in other growing sectors but has been a challenge to introduce into the tree production sector, for example because nurseries deal with smaller volumes and a wider diversity of species. The development or adoption of appropriate automation to increase nursery efficiencies and capacity could help to overcome labour uncertainty. In addition, developments would reduce the need for repetitive manual labour and present opportunities for higher quality jobs (i.e. running of planting machinery)
recently the sector has seen some shift from field grown to cell grown plants and further innovations that widen uptake or accessibility of these techniques, or develop novel transplanting or planting systems, could significantly enhance production. We would be particularly interested to hear from applicants with proposals that explore sustainable alternatives to peat for cell grown tree production. Applicants developing peat free solutions are encouraged to pay due consideration to the scalability of raw materials used
projects might explore other means to enhance the efficiency of production such as developing new ways to reduce or manage inputs such as water or reduce the risk of climatic impacts. An enhanced application of understanding of soil health, nutrition or the role of mycorrhiza might also improve growth and establishment rates
as with seed, a move to enhance the diversity of species and provenances produced will present some specific challenges and projects which seek to overcome these would be welcome. Ensuring the traceability of different provenances of stock outside the FRM system is a specific challenge of interest
biosecurity and the use of best practice standards underpin the production of high-quality tree planting stock. Projects might explore the use of novel technologies or processes that help growers to achieve biosecurity standards and encourage wider uptake of best practice
applicants might also explore innovative approaches which improve establishment and survival rates of nursery stock at the point of planting in the wider environment. To reach maturity, trees in both forestry and urban contexts are required to withstand pressures including climatic stresses, pests and disease. We would welcome proposals that aim to enhance the resilience of newly planted trees and saplings. For example, projects might explore sustainable alternatives to Hylobius pine weevil control that increase survival rates of newly planted stock
Challenge 3: How can innovative environmentally sustainable weed control solutions be used to reduce reliance on herbicides?
In recent years the sector has begun to adapt nursery practices to reduce use of chemical herbicides. The sector faces a considerable challenge to reduce reliance on such products without turning to alternatives which are equally environmentally unsustainable, whether it be in the context of greenhouse gas emissions, impact on biodiversity or other considerations. Solutions to this challenge are vital in order to maintain the productivity of the sector.
- proposals that use all kinds of innovation to solve this challenge are welcome. These include technology-based solutions such as laser technology as well as nature-based solutions. Projects might explore the efficacy, potential damage to non-target organisms, and cost effectiveness of different approaches as well as innovative solutions
What funding is available
An additional £2 million in capital grant funding will be made available through the TPIF to support innovation projects. Proposals, whether single or multi-year, must have a minimum total cost of £20K to be eligible for funding under the TPIF. Projects may be valued at up to £200K in any given financial year. Eligible costs that may be claimed will include:
- personnel costs related to researchers, and other supporting staff to the extent employed on the project
- costs of equipment for the period of the project. Where such equipment is not used for their full life only the depreciation costs corresponding to the life of the project shall be eligible
- costs of contractual research, knowledge and patents bought or licensed from outside sources at arm’s-length conditions, as well as costs of consultancy and equivalent services used exclusively for the project
- operating expenses, including costs of materials, supplies and similar products, incurred directly as a result of the project
- travel and subsistence specifically for TPIF related grant activities, carried out in the most economically and sustainable way possible
The following expenditure is ineligible:
- costs or overheads such as rent, and utilities apportioned to staff directly or indirectly employed on the project
- costs incurred outside of the project delivery window
- costs involved in preparing your application
- costs currently being met by another grant scheme
Am I eligible?
The TPIF is open to a wide range of applicants from the private sector and we would welcome applications from consortia and new entrants to the sector.
The following groups are identified as likely potential applicants to the fund:
- private sector nurseries, organisations, and seed suppliers
- public bodies partnered with private sector third party organisations
- research institutes
- universities and colleges
- horticultural and agricultural growers
- private sector research and technology suppliers
Public bodies are required to partner with private sector third party organisations to be eligible for funding. Forestry England (FE) and Forest Research (FR) are not eligible for grant funding under the TPIF but may be subcontracted on behalf of eligible organisations to complete TPIF related work packages.
Is my project eligible?
Projects can run for up to two financial years, ending by 27 March 2025. Applicants submitting proposals spanning multiple financial years should state this on the application form and clearly outline the activities, milestones and outputs that will be delivered by the end of each financial year.
To be eligible for funding:
- the proposal must demonstrate how the project will contribute to enhancing quantity, quality and/or diversity of trees produced for planting in England by meeting one of the challenges above
- the lead partner in the work to be funded (i.e. the lead applicant) must be a UK based business, sole trader or organisation
- the intended outcomes should be applicable to tree production in England (but not necessarily exclusively so).
- the project proposal shall be relevant to species with forestry potential (but not necessarily exclusively so)
- the work to be funded must not have commenced
- the project must be limited to pre-commercial activity
All eligibility criteria are fully described in the TPIF Application Form.
The Tree Production Innovation Fund is supporting a range of existing projects due to complete by March 2025. To read more about the projects which were awarded funding in 2022 read our blog: Tree Production Innovation Fund: 2022 successful applicants - Forestry Commission
Or check out the 2022 projects list Tree Production Innovation Fund: successful projects 2022
How do I apply?
The deadline for applications is 23:55 on Tuesday 9 May 2023.
A single stage application process will be followed. Detailed guidance on how to apply can be found in the Guidance to Applicants on the Tree Production Innovation Fund Application Form.
|The Forestry Commission will be hosted a “TPIF – How to Apply” webinar event at 2pm on Friday 31 March. During this session, applicants will have the opportunity to ask questions about the TPIF application and evaluation processes.||If you missed the webinar your can watch it again TPIF: How to Apply webinar.|
Applications must be written in English, using the forms provided (without alterations to layout or format), and submitted by 23:55 on Tuesday 9 May 2023. Applications received after the deadline will not be considered.
In the Application Form you will be asked to provide details about:
An application will contain details about:
- what the project aims to achieve and how it fits within the scope of the fund
- the approach you will take and where the focus of the innovation will be
- who is in the project team and what their roles are, including details of partner organisations and subcontractors
- the impact that the project might have outside of the project organisations
- how the project will be managed effectively
- the main risks for the project, and how these will be mitigated
- the impact that an injection of public funding would have on the project
- the cost of the project and how it represents value for money for the project team and for the taxpayer
- the activities to be funded and outputs and long-term outcomes expected
All costs and financial details should be in £ Sterling.
All questions in the application form are mandatory and you must submit a Finance Spreadsheet as part of your application. If any part of your application is incomplete, your application will be returned to you within three working days for you to revise and resubmit before the deadline should you wish. If any part of your application is unclear, the Forestry Commission may contact you – at any time prior to informing you of a funding decision – to request further information. If you wish to amend your application before the published deadline or withdraw your application at any time, please email email@example.com.
There is no limit to the number of bids an applicant may submit provided each application is for a discrete and unique project.
Consortium applications are welcomed. A lead partner should be identified in the application. The lead applicant will become the sole agreement holder with the Forestry Commission; they will be responsible for the undertakings and obligations detailed in any grant agreement, in line with Terms and Conditions of Funding. If your application is successful, the lead applicant will become the sole agreement holder and will be the sole recipient of grant funding upon receipt of valid claims. The contractual arrangements held between the lead applicant and their co-applicants are not the responsibility of the Forestry Commission and the lead applicant will have sole responsibility for onward disbursal of grant funding to co-applicants, for example.
If you consider the information contained within your application to be commercially sensitive, you must notify the Forestry Commission of this when submitting your application.
The Forestry Commission reserves the right to change the deadline for applications or make changes to the Invitation to Apply and the application process at short notice. The Forestry Commission reserves the right to amend, add to or withdraw all or any part of the funding application process at any time during the process. All changes are recorded at the bottom of this page (click ‘show all updates’) and where these are made following the opening date the lead applicant for all applications already received will be contacted directly by email. Material changes (for example to the closing date or eligibility rules) will also be communicated via the Forestry Commission’s Grants and Regulations eAlert.
If you wish to clarify any application requirements or the application process, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We will aim to respond to all requests for clarification within two working days of receipt. If we consider information requests relevant to any applicant, we will provide additional guidance to all applicants (via point of contact provided) by email to ensure a fair and open process. We may be unable to respond to other support requests due to the competitive bid process.
Applicants who canvass FC or Defra employees associated with the TPIF may have their applications rejected from the process.
Applicants who are unable to accept standard terms and conditions may have their application eliminated from the application process.
The Forestry Commission reserves the right not to answer clarifications where it considers that the answer to that clarification would or would be likely to prejudice commercial interests.
How will applications be assessed?
All applications will be evaluated by a panel with expertise and experience of tree production methods used in England. Any applications deemed to fall outside the scope of the fund will not be evaluated.
Applicants will be notified of their TPIF funding decision by Friday 16 June 2023. Your application will be rejected if your project is ineligible for funding (see ‘Is my project eligible?’ above) or if your application scores 0 in response to any question in the application form when the Forestry Commission evaluates it. A minimum overall score of 20/40 is required to be eligible for TPIF grant funding.
The Forestry Commission reserves the right to not award all of the funding available if insufficient bids of an appropriate quality are received.
The Forestry Commission may carry out checks on each application using a variety of government tools including the Cabinet Office’s automated grants due diligence tool called ‘Spotlight’ and Bank Account Verification software.
As part of due diligence process, the Forestry Commission may share details of the organisations involved in applications with other parts of government.
The Forestry Commission will regard all eligible applications as remaining valid for 6 months after the initial closing date for applications. If the funds are oversubscribed and additional funds become available, valid applications may be reconsidered for funding.
Reporting and payments
Grant holders will be required to complete an interim and end of year report in each financial year covered by their agreement. These reports will detail achievements against stated outcomes and outputs, lessons learnt, a complete cost breakdown outlining how the grant funding has been spent, and any need for further development.
Interim reports are due on 31 October (31 September in Year 2), and final reports are due by 27 March of each financial year. Templates for both interim and end of year reports will be provided to successful applicants. Payments may be withheld or reclaimed if reports are not submitted on time. Applicants will be encouraged to work with the Forestry Commission to publish a short article in a suitable trade press after the work has been completed.
Multi-year agreements will be subject to an annual performance monitoring review by the FC. Where applicants are failing to deliver against agreed outputs and objectives, or it becomes clear that avenues of research are no longer worth pursuing, multi-year agreements may be terminated at the discretion of the FC.
Payments will be made in arrears by BACS transfer following receipt of claim forms. Payment of the claim will be made within 30 days of the FC approving your claim. In any given financial year, applicants will be able to submit claims at both the interim and final reporting stages, and on up to two additional dates chosen by the applicant. All claims must be supported by evidence of eligible expenditure (i.e., invoices/ timesheets) and, where not accompanied by an interim or end of year report, a progress update to demonstrate that works have been carried out as per the grant agreement. Successful projects must not begin before the start date of any grant agreement offered by the FC – expenditure outside of the funding period will not be eligible to claim back.
Intellectual property shall remain with the grant recipients, but the scope of the project and a summary of the outcomes and outputs shall be made publicly available via trade publications.
Applicants must declare if they have received, have applied for, or intend to apply for any other government funds.
The Forestry Commission is not responsible for any losses, breakages or injuries incurred by the applicant whilst engaged in activities associated with this Innovation Fund.
Neither the Forestry Commission nor its respective advisers, directors, officers, members, partners, employees, other staff, or agents:
Makes any representation or warranty (express or implied) as to the accuracy, reasonableness, or completeness of this guidance; or
Accepts any responsibility for the information contained in this guidance or for the fairness, accuracy or completeness of that information nor shall any of them be liable for any loss or damage (other than in respect of fraudulent misrepresentation) arising as a result of reliance on such information or any subsequent communication.
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