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Wales launches £2.6M sustainable challenge to improve local food

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3 min read
AUTHOR: Molly Long
valley in Wales

A £2.6 million challenge aimed at improving the country’s food system has been launched by the Government of Wales.

The challenge is a partnership between Government and Cardiff Council, Monmouthshire County Council, the Cardiff Capital Region Challenge Fund, and the SBRI (Small Business Research Initiative) Centre of Excellence.

It aims to identify and support innovative companies working within the sustainable food space – helping them to “harness the potential of land, technology and people”, according to organisers.

One of the biggest motivations behind the challenge comes from the looming concern over how climate change will impact food production.  

Cardiff Council Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Caro Wild, said: “How we produce, supply and consume food in the future is going to play a big part in how successful we are in responding to the unprecedented challenges posed by climate-change and biodiversity loss, as well as diet-related illness.”

Wild added that with other ongoing challenges like the pandemic, Brexit, increasing energy prices and the war in Ukraine, now is the time to seize change.

There are two main objectives for the challenge, organisers explain. Applicants must clearly demonstrate:

  • How they will increase the sustainable production of food in the region and generate positive economic, social and environmental impacts
  • How they will supply nutritious, locally grown food whilst ensuring a fair price for producers and the wellbeing of future generations

Competition details confirm that prospective candidates can choose to address one or both objectives.

In particular, organisers are interested in “sustainable food production and supply chain solutions which can be applied to the public sector, private and third sector to maximise commercial opportunities”. Additionally, the challenge encourages partnerships between applicants.

The project will be rolled out over three stages. Phase one will require applicants to show the feasibility of their ideas, and up to £50,000 is on offer per project.

Phase two contracts are intended to further develop prototypes of the most promising solutions from phase one. Approximately £800,000 is on offer here, to be awarded to one or more projects.

The final phase will award 12-month contracts to one or more projects worth £1,000,000. Only those who have successfully completed phases one and two will be eligible for the funding.

Speaking about the opportunity available to businesses through the challenge, Monmouthshire County Council Cabinet Member for Climate Change and the Environment, Catrin Maby, said: “This project presents a really exciting opportunity for innovative regional businesses to come forward with projects that will seek to sustain the production and supply of our locally grown food for generations to come.

“As the cost-of-living crisis continues to impact families, food security is becoming more and more important.  We therefore need to grasp every opportunity to facilitate a transition to a food system that can provide affordable and healthy food at the same time as reducing negative environmental impacts”.

Those interested in applying to the challenge can register their interest on the SBRI website.

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