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  • Hugo Walker

The Business Sustainability Challenge: £600k for environmentally-friendly innovation in the F&B industry

Growing Kent & Medway are offering £600k for the best in the business in the sustainable food space, after a roaring success from last year’s round of funding

Growing Kent & Medway are providing grants totalling £600k to firms and start-ups that provide innovative environmental solutions in the food and beverage industry. The Business Sustainability Challenge will provide winners with up to £50k to pioneer their technology or perfect their idea. The funding panel has a special interest in the promotion of circular economies and introducing plant-based products to supply chains. 

Dr Nikki Harrison, director for Growing Kent & Medway, said: “The South East is fast becoming the leading region for food innovation in the UK. This is a testament to the remarkable achievements and ambitions of our horticultural growers, and food and drink businesses. Our previous winners of the Business Sustainability Challenge have demonstrated that innovation not only drives growth but also creates new markets and revenue streams in the region.”

This is the second round of funding, after a successful 2023 where £262k was granted to successful applicants. 

Spotlight on previous winners

Last year’s winning applicants showcased a fascinating range of environmental innovations: from material engineering to the development of sustainable hop oil for beer brewing, to mushrooms grown from the by-products of whiskey fermentations. Take a look at some of the innovative winners of last year’s grant. 

Canterbury Brewers & Distillers at The Foundry

The Canterbury beer and whiskey specialists have long developed innovative ways to repurpose waste products and energy - such as capturing waste heat from the distillery process to heat their bar and garden area. After winning a £13.8k grant last year, the brewery worked on their latest project to utilise waste grain, water, CO2 and energy to fuel the process of growing luxury mushrooms. By combining spent grain — a by-product of the whiskey brewing process — with mycelium, they create a nutrient-rich substrate which is perfect for growing quality mushrooms.

Tensei Ltd

Tensei Ltd models their business around leveraging "second harvest" — waste products of traditional harvesting — to create alternative, natural fibres that are used in material engineering, for example producing packaging. Tensei deservedly secured £50k from the Growing Kent & Medway fund, which has been used to develop environmentally friendly bio-fillers in plastic blends, reducing the need for virgin and recycled plastics. 

Grow Up Farms

Grow Up Farms are paving the way in sustainable, hyper-local horticulture. They provide retailers across the country with sustainable, innovative, and low-resource leafy greens grown at their vertical farm, in a high-care controlled environment. The startup leverages tech to grow smartly and minimise inputs. Grow Up Farms promises huge environmental impact, with a whopping 94% less water used, 93% fewer CO2 emissions, 3.9 million food miles saved, and no chemical run-off, compared to the traditional salad you’d find in a supermarket. Grow Up Farms received £29k from the Growing Kent & Medway fund. 

You can see the full list of winners here.

To find out more about submitting a bid for 2024, you can attend the Business Sustainability Challenge briefing by registering here. We look forward to hearing about the winners of the 2024 round of funding!


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