€3m agtech innovation hub for Kildare

UCD’s entrepreneurship centre NovaUCD has been awarded €3m in funding to develop an Agtech Connector Innovation Hub at the UCD Lyons Farm in Co Kildare.

NovaUCD was one of 26 successful applicants, representing all regions of the country, who have recently been approved for funding under the third round of the Regional Enterprise Development Fund (REDF).

The UCD Lyons Farm is a fully functioning farm comprising of 250 hectares of land, with dairy, beef, sheep, equine, crop and environmental research, teaching and commercial facilities. The Farm is located between Celbridge and Newcastle.

“The new hub will act as an international showcase destination for business and investors to view the best of innovation in agtech in Ireland”

The goal of the AgTech Connector Innovation Hub is to bring together the AgTech ecosystem in Ireland to accelerate the launch and scaling of agtech companies by providing them with access to on-farm research collaboration opportunities, a location to test and trial their products and services in a real-world environment; along with access to dedicated acceleration programmes and incubation facilities.

“The global agtech sector is ripe for disruption and Ireland now has a great opportunity to leverage its unique assets to develop innovative, job creating agtech companies with global ambition,” said Tom Flanagan, UCD director of Enterprise and Commercialisation.

“The new hub will also act as an international showcase destination for business and investors to view the best of innovation in agtech in Ireland.”

Field to fork

Agri-companies including Devenish, Dairymaster, and Glanbia are involved in the project along with investors Finistere, The Yield Lab, and Atlantic Bridge, and leading agtech researchers and innovators at UCD, Teagasc and Wageningen, Netherlands.

“This is a very exciting development for UCD Lyons Farm and the many agriculture and food entrepreneurs that we engage with,” added Prof Alex Evans, UCD School. It builds on UCD’s success in translating knowledge into impact and will greatly stimulate our agriculture, food and environmental science research and education activities.”

In total over €40m in funding was announced by Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, TD, in the latest results of the REDF, an open national competitive call to support regional projects that drive sustainable job creation in the regions.

The REDF was introduced in 2017, to co-finance the development and implementation of collaborative and innovative enterprise projects that can make a significant impact on enterprise development in the regions in order to help sustain and add to employment at county, regional and national level.

Last week we reported how the Grow Remote movement was one of the organisations that also received backing to the tune of €500,000 which can be leveraged up to €1m, to foster a remote working culture across Ireland.

“The projects we are funding are at the cutting edge of innovation,” said Minister Humphreys. “I am confident that they have the potential to make a real and lasting impact on enterprise development at both regional and national level. The Fund is making a real difference on the ground, so I look forward to seeing these 26 exciting projects translate into jobs and prosperity.”

Written by John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 13 January, 2020