Working with industry and other collaborators
I do not have a company involved – can I still apply to Ceres?
Yes! There is no requirement to have a company involved in order to apply. Industry involvement is still possible, but this is normally via subcontract.
Does Ceres fund research coming out of companies and other industrial partners?
No. Ceres does not fund any aspect of industry R&D.
I am working on an Innovate UK funded project and there is the potential to take some of this forward through a Ceres award, would that be possible?
This is possible in principle; however, Ceres would need to first understand the status of any background IP coming out of the Innovate project. IP status for every Ceres proposal is always assessed early in the application process, so previous Innovate UK work should not be viewed as a barrier to your application.
I am an academic from a non-Ceres university; can I still get involved in Ceres-funded research?
Ceres applications are always led by researchers from the Ceres partner universities. Collaborations with researchers outside the Ceres partnership are possible but generally via subcontract. Researchers who have their own funding and wish to collaborate in work funded under a Ceres award are considered on a case-by case basis.
I am an academic from a Ceres partner university; can I work with researchers from the other partner institutions on joint projects?
Yes! Collaboration across our partner universities is a key part of Ceres and we particularly encourage joint proposals within the partnership.
Scope of Ceres funding
What is the range of Ceres funding?
Ceres Project Awards can range from £20,000 up to a maximum of £250,000. Ceres Proof-of-Concept Awards range from £5,000 up to a maximum of £20,000.
How long does a Ceres project need to be?
There is no set length; this is determined by the requirements of the work and ultimately what is best for the project.
Does Ceres fund basic or fundamental research?
No. Ceres is commercially focused and offers translational funding to agri-tech innovations with strong commercial potential. Ceres Project Awards need to have reached at least proof-of-concept stage.
How do I know if my proposal is in scope?
Ceres will fund proposals with applications in the broad area of plant agri-tech, excluding small molecule agrichemicals and plant variety breeding. Technologies must be relevant to agri-tech but can come from a variety of one or more scientific disciplines, e.g. robotics, chemistry, computer science, etc. If you are still unsure or feel that your proposal may be borderline, feel free to contact the Ceres Team at firstname.lastname@example.org
What can Ceres funding be spent on? Can I get money for staff or equipment?
Ceres funding can be used to pay for staff costs, equipment or consumables, subcontractors’ fees, and most other costs as long as they are part of the Ceres project plan. However, Ceres generally does not fund publication costs or conferences.
Will Ceres also pay for intellectual property protection costs?
No. It is the responsibility of the Ceres university to cover patent fees and other IP costs.
Applying to Ceres
I am a PhD student, can I apply?
PhD students are welcome to apply as part of a project team.
My background is in academic research and I have little experience of working commercially or pitching for investment. Is there support to guide me with this?
Yes! The Ceres Team is available to help develop your project to give it the best chance of winning Ceres funding. The Ceres Team can assist with market research, building your business case, and preparing the slide deck for the final pitch. Support is also available to help you practise your pitch or, for Ceres Project Awards, even pitch as part of your team on the day if you would like.
What is the application format? Do I need to fill in a grant form to apply?
There is no requirement to fill in a grant application form; all applications for Ceres funding take the form of a short pitch presentation to the Ceres Investment Committee, developed with the help of the Ceres Team. Pitches are 15 minutes for Ceres Project Awards, or 6 minutes for Ceres Proof-of-Concept Awards.
I would like to apply for Ceres funding; can I still disclose my work publicly, e.g. by speaking at conferences or publishing in academic journals?
The timing of publication or any other public disclosure needs to be carefully managed to protect commercially sensitive aspects of the project and any IP that may be generated; otherwise, the commercialisation of your technology could be jeopardised. If you would like to publish, please get in touch with your university’s technology transfer office well in advance to establish the best route forward.