Offaly’s BiaSol offers food for thought about entrepreneurship

ACORNS alumni and BiaSol co-founder Niamh Dooley used lockdown to her advantage and built a business in both Offaly and Melbourne.

We talk to rural women entrepreneurs from across Ireland who recently took part in the ACORNS programme.

Women in rural Ireland with new businesses or at least with well-developed ideas are being invited to join next phase of the programme ACORNS 8. The ACORNS programme is designed to support early-stage female entrepreneurs living in rural Ireland through a peer learning approach. Thanks to the support of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, and the voluntary contribution of time by Lead Entrepreneurs, there is no charge for those selected to participate.

“The products are attractive to consumers and food industry professionals because they boost flavour and are very high in fibre”

The call is now open for applicants for ACORNS 8 and 50 female entrepreneurs from across the country will be selected to participate. Anyone interested in receiving an application form ahead of the midnight 23 September deadline for ACORNS 8 should register their interest here


A pandemic lockdown project across two continents led Niamh Dooley, from Athlone, Co Westmeath, and her brother Ruairi, to create BiaSol, a business that upcycles spent grain from breweries into healthy food products.

Niamh and Ruairi, who was then based in Melbourne, founded the company in October 2020, after investigating the possibilities of a sustainable, nutritious food product as a way of keeping in touch over Zoom, when they were both experiencing the limitations of lockdowns.

Niamh, who had graduated with a degree in Food Science from University of Limerick in 2016, had been working on Food Dudes, Bord Bia’s healthy eating programme for primary schools, but was let go due to the pandemic.

After securing a time-share in a test kitchen, BiaSol succeeded in getting €50,000 from EI’s Competitive Start Fund, which enabled them to set up their own premises in Tullamore, Co Offaly.

“BiaSol provides wholesale products to the food service industry and a retail health food product, super milled grains, which is available in 75 health food stores across Ireland.

“The products are attractive to consumers and food industry professionals because they boost flavour and are very high in fibre,” Dooley explained.

The company currently employs Niamh and Ruairi, another full-time employee and two interns. Niamh expects to add a part-time production employee in the immediate future, as well as sales and marketing roles.

Niamh says key highlights for the business so far have been launching their retail product and winning the Irish Times Innovation Award for Manufacturing and Design in 2021.

“I found that taking part in ACORNS gave me confidence as a woman in business, and the programme was a great opportunity to learn from other business owners.”

Niamh expects to launch more retail products in the near future and to begin exporting into the UK

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