Ireland’s agri-innovators invited to plough ahead

Entries for the Enterprise Ireland Innovation Arena Awards 2020, in association with the National Ploughing Association, are now being accepted online.

Irish agri-companies are invited to enter their products and innovations for consideration to the annual awards competition which has moved online this year due to the cancellation of the National Ploughing Championships as a result of Covid-19 pandemic restrictions.

The Innovation Arena, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, was first established by the National Ploughing Association (NPA) in conjunction with Tanco Engineering founder Alfie Cox, with Enterprise Ireland coming on board for the last seven years.

“Agriculture is deeply rooted in Irish culture and is a vital factor in rural Ireland’s economic growth”

“This year’s Innovation Arena Awards will continue in recognition of the innovative and entrepreneurial activity that is taking place in towns and villages all over Ireland, despite the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Mark Christal, manager, Regions and Entrepreneurship at Enterprise Ireland.

“Many Enterprise Ireland companies have adjusted their products and services to continue to deliver successfully, whether it has been developing important PPE, or ensuring that vital food and industry services remain open. This resilience is particularly evident in the agri-community. Every year, the Innovation Arena Awards provide clear proof that Ireland is leading the way for innovation in the agri-engineering and agri-technology sector and I encourage all budding entrepreneurs and established enterprises to enter.”

Showcasing excellence

Over the past decade, innovative products showcased at the Innovation Arena by leading Irish companies such as Samco, Malone, Moocall, Herdwatch and Cross Engineering, have gone on to achieve global success. Last year’s winners included Dairymaster Mission Control which has introduced Artificial Intelligence to rotary milking and a sheep handling system called the Cotter Crate developed by Co. Limerick brothers Jack and Nick Cotter.

This year’s Innovation Arena Awards are once again open to Irish businesses and entrepreneurs within the agri-sector, giving them the opportunity to launch their pioneering innovations.

Innovators from the following industry sectors are encouraged to enter: dairy and dry-stock farming, horticulture, information and communication technology, cloud and mobile based software, animal health and genetics, water and waste management, environment and clean-tech, animal and farm management, farm safety and leading research.

Award categories include best agri-technology start-up, best agri-engineering established company, young innovator of the year and best agri-environmental enterprise. The best start-up and overall winner of the Innovation Arena Awards will be eligible to win up to €5,000 each.

“The National Ploughing Championships has been a focal point of innovation since its establishment in 1931,” said National Ploughing Association managing director Anna May McHugh.

“Agriculture is deeply rooted in Irish culture and is a vital factor in rural Ireland’s economic growth. This year, with the current global pandemic, innovation in business has never been more important and significant as companies have to adapt to an evolving and unknown economic climate and marketplace.

“Over the years the Innovation Arena at Ploughing has seen some of the most ground-breaking technologies and amazing cutting-edge ideas, with previous winners going on to have serious success in business both in Ireland and internationally. As a result, I would encourage all budding entrepreneurs to enter this year’s competition.”

To enter this year’s Innovation Arena Awards please go to:

The closing date for entries is Friday, 10 July, 2020.

Pictured at top: Winners of 2019 Innovation Arena Best Start-Up Award were Co Limerick brothers Jack and Nick Cotter with Julie Sinnamon, CEO, Enterprise Ireland and Anna May McHugh, NPA managing director.

Written by John Kennedy (

Published: Thursday, 4 June, 2020