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The deadline for all Expressions of Interest for the latest round of EAFRD Growth Programme National Reserve Fund closed on the 16th February 2020.

In 2019, the Rural Payments Agency and Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) launched the EAFRD Growth Programme National Reserve Fund (NRF) to run a new round of national calls for Expressions of Interest. The calls were in the three themes of Business Development, Food Processing and Rural Tourism Infrastructure. This is a £35 million fund to boost rural productivity and create local jobs. For this funding round of the Growth Programme, the threshold for minimum grants came down from £35,000 to £20,000, meaning that more small or micro-businesses would be eligible for a grant for their projects. Key changes from the previous round:

  • The minimum grant for all 3 themes was £20,000 (previously £35,000)
  • The maximum grant for Business Development was €200,000 as state aid is de minimis – currently around £175,000
  • The maximum grant for commercial projects under Tourism Infrastructure was £ €200,000 again the state aid is de minimis – currently around £175,000
  • The maximum grant for non-commercial Tourism Infrastructure (M7.5) was also capped at €200,000 though the intervention rate and state aid used differed depending on the activity
  • The maximum grant for Food Processing was capped at £750,000 for projects where the outputs are Annex I products. Where the output of the project is non-Annex I products would usually be limited to €200,000

Priority will be given to projects that:

  • create new and expand existing micro and small businesses in rural areas including those from the following sectors:
    • manufacturing
    • engineering
    • Information and Communication Technology and multi-media
  • create services or manufacture new products including niche products
  • enable farming businesses to diversify into non-agricultural activities, including rural workspace, workshops and on-farm retail
  • reduce the environmental impact of the applicant business, as part of a larger project

Further reading:

Priority will be given to projects that:

  • adopt new techniques and processes
  • create new ‘“local food”’ products and/or involve the processing of local food
  • open new product markets to the business including new products in new market categories
  • increase the productivity of the emerging wine industry

Priority will also be given to projects from micro and small breweries based in rural areas increasing their productivity.

Further reading:

These grants are for capital investments to develop and grow tourism in rural areas. The aim is to increase the length of time and the amount of money spent by visitors in rural part of the SE LEP area. Priority will be given to projects that:

  • create sustainable new or existing rural visitor attractions to increase the range of activities available and extend the tourism season beyond the usual period of May to October
  • create new quality visitor accommodation, at least 4* rating or equivalent
  • upgrade existing visitor accommodation where it will be above the current accreditation rating and at least 4* rating or equivalent accreditation rating
  • invest in events which focus on local culture, heritage, environment, food and drink and bring sustainable economic benefits to the area
  • create sustainable year-round jobs in tourism instead of seasonal work

These grants will not support projects that:

  • refurbish, repair or maintain existing accommodation where the current standard of facilities and / or accreditation rating is retained

Further reading: