The Malone Express leads field at Innovation Arena Awards 2020

Malone Farm Machinery, Co Mayo – maker of The Malone Express – is the overall winner of the Enterprise Ireland Innovation Arena Awards 2020.

The Malone Express, a 16-bale trainer that could be a game-changer in haymaking, was named the overall winner out of 60 entry for the Enterprise Ireland Innovation Arena Awards in association with the National Ploughing Association.

From sustainable Black Soldier Fly farming to a Third Arm for farm safety, the most innovative Irish agri-tech and agri-engineering products were announced today (15 September) by Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail, Damien English, TD.

“Ireland’s innovative contribution to advances in agri-business is recognised globally”

This year’s overall Enterprise Ireland Innovation Arena Awards winner was Michael Malone from Malone Farm Machinery in Co. Mayo. The company’s winning entry is The Malone Express, a 16 bale trailer which can accommodate 16 round bales on a chassis that is shorter than other comparable machines on the market. This makes the implement easier to manoeuvre while accommodating a large quantity of bales.

The best overall start-up award went to Shane Kiernan from AI and Robotics company Iamus Technologies based in NovaUCD Dublin which is collaborating with a large poultry processor and using its technology to continuously gather data from birds, providing feedback that could save the poultry industry billions of euros annually.

“Ireland’s innovative contribution to advances in agri-business is recognised globally and we are leading the way with technology solutions that improve efficiencies through greater automation,” said Minister English.

“This puts us in a great position to take advantage of the significant overseas opportunities for this sector which will help to drive economic growth.”

Agritech showcase

Man holding grain.

Pictured (from left): Alvan Hunt, CEO and co-founder, Hexafly; Mark Christal, Enterprise Ireland; Minister Damien English, TD; and Anna May McHugh, National Ploughing Association are pictured at Hexafly which won an award for Sustainable Agriculture. Image: Maxwells

Enterprise Ireland’s Innovation Arena traditionally showcases ground-breaking agri-related products and innovations from Irish agri-companies at the National Ploughing Championships, but this year’s competition was moved fully online due to the cancellation of the event as a result of Covid-19 pandemic restrictions.

“This is Enterprise Ireland’s seventh year co-hosting the Innovation Arena Awards and each year we see significant progress in the competition entries,” said Mark Christal, divisional manager for Regions and Entrepreneurship at Enterprise Ireland.

“Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the quality of this year’s entries are a clear indicator that innovative and entrepreneurial activity will continue to drive our country forward.

“Many Enterprise Ireland companies have adjusted and pivoted recently to help deliver success and particularly in ensuring that vital food and industry services remain open. This resilience is particularly evident in the agri community and Enterprise Ireland is committed to supporting the determination and ambition of our agri-sector to succeed both at home and in overseas markets”.

Winners of this year’s awards are automatically eligible to exhibit in the ‘2020 Winners Enclosure Section’ at the Innovation Arena in 2021.

More than 60 entries were received for this year’s Awards competition with the top 30 selected for virtual pitching.  

“My congratulations to all of the Innovation Arena Award winners and particularly Malone Farm Machinery as the overall winner,” said Anna May McHugh, National Ploughing Association managing director.

“This is quite an achievement given the high quality and standard of all the exciting entries for this year’s Awards. Over the years, we have seen the Innovation Arena at the National Ploughing Championships grow and grow as it offers a significant and unique platform for global business opportunities for budding entrepreneurs and innovators in the agri-tech and agri-engineering space.”

Ireland’s agri-tech innovation winners

The overall and best start-up Award winners will receive €5,000 each. There were 12 Award category winners including:

Agricultural Engineering Award (Established Company) and Overall Innovation Arena Winner: Micheal Malone, Malone Farm Machinery, Mayo

Alfie Cox Best Start-Up Award: Shane Kiernan, Iamus Technologies Ltd, Dublin

Agricultural Engingeering (Start-Up Company) and IFAC Best New Comer Award – Micheal McInerney, StrongBó Agritech, Galway

Sustainable Agriculture – Alvan Hunt, Hexafly, Meath

Young Innovator: Alanna McCabe (14 yrs), Fence DeFence, Cavan

Farm Safety (Established Company): Peter McMahon, Dromone Engineering Ltd, Meath

Micro Engineering Award: William Pius McCloat, SUIP Manufacturing Company Ltd, Sligo

On Farm Innovation: Peter O’Sullivan, Bullseye Engineering, Wicklow

Farm Software Award: Pierce Dargan, Equine MediRecord, Kildare

Farm Safety Start Up Company: Philip Dickson, Dickson Agri Solutions, Westmeath

Pictured at top (from left): Mark Christal, Enterprise Ireland Minister Damien English TD and Anna May McHugh, National Ploughing Association

Written by John Kennedy (

Published: 15 September, 2020