• Status: Closed

  • Key features: The purpose of this call is is to develop an affordable solar-powered irrigation pump that can be deployed to developing regions around the world, particularly Sub-Saharan Africa.

  • Programme: SBRI

  • Award: Up to £800,000

  • Opens: 28 Sep 2015, 00:00

  • Registration closes: 02 Dec 2015, 12:00

  • Closes: 09 Dec 2015, 12:00

  • Support phone number: 0300 321 4357

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Solar powered irrigation pump


Department for International DevelopmentThe Department for International Development (DFID) leads the UK's work to end extreme poverty, ending the need for aid by creating jobs, unlocking the potential of girls and women and helping to save lives when humanitarian emergencies hit.
The aim of the competition is to develop an affordable solar-powered irrigation pump that can be deployed to developing regions around the world, particularly Sub-Saharan Africa.
Soil moisture, usually enabled by irrigation, is one of the key drivers of agricultural productivity. Studies have found that irrigation can lead to substantial increases in productivity from 50% (IFPRI, 2010) to over 100% (Molden, 2007).  However, despite the availability of groundwater, most African smallholder farmers do not have the economic wherewithal to access the water because pumps and other irrigation equipment are too expensive.  
Currently available manual (e.g., treadle) pumps are quite labour intensive, and often not suited for the needs of women farmers.  Motorized pumps currently on the market are expensive and require diesel, the cumulative costs of which are high (even though incremental costs might be low). In remote areas, the paucity of distribution networks for diesel is an additional constraint.
The lack of cost effective irrigation solutions has prevented the demonstrating of the benefits of irrigation at a large scale.  Existing solutions are not appropriate, reducing demand.  However, there is a demand for increased agricultural productivity to meet the food needs of a growing population which will feed through to demand for appropriate solutions.  This has also been identified as a critical technological advance needed for sustainable development by the Institute for Globally Transformative Technologies.
A successful outcome would be a prototype that delivers significant improvements in terms of cost, energy requirements and volume of water delivered when compared to existing irrigation solutions.
Target requirements for the device are:
  1. Volume Production cost of £30.
  2. Light weight.
  3. Lift: 7m
  4. Volume: 6m3/day.
  5. Ability to be integrated into existing irrigation systems and cope with dirty water.
  6. Easy to deploy and operate safely with no specialist skills.
  7. Output proportional to sunlight available with some capability in light cloud.
  8. Robust design able to withstand the extremes of climate throughout Africa.
  9. Easily maintainable when deployed
Applicants must provide technical details of the device and how it meets all of the above targets in their application, including repair costs.  The volume production cost is the sum of costs of all resources consumed in the process of making the system including direct materials cost, direct labour cost and manufacturing overhead for high volume production, together with any proposed licensing costs.
DFID is working through SBRI to deliver development outcomes.  Therefore, from the outset, applicants need to consider their route to market in Africa.  If the applicant does not intend to market directly in Africa licencing or partnership could be considered.
The call will close on Thursday 9th December 2015 at 1200 hrs. All proposals must be submitted via the Innovate UK portal.
There was a webinar at 10:30am on Monday 5th October.  A recording of that webinar is now available.

Application process & supporting downloads

This competition is run by Innovate UK. 
Open Date: 28th September 2015
Close Date: 9th December 2015
Contracts awarded: February 2016
Award: Up to £800,000
Call: 0300 321 4357
For specific questions about the subject of this call, please contact the Innovate UK technical team at:  SBRI@innovateuk.gov.uk