NovaUCD (UCD Nova DAC), the Centre for New Ventures and Entrepreneurs at University College Dublin (UCD), has been awarded €3 million in funding to develop an AgTech Connector Innovation Hub at the UCD Lyons Farm in Co. Kildare.
It was one of twenty-six 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 enterprise comprising of 250 hectares of land, with dairy, beef, sheep, equine, crop and environmental research, teaching and commercial facilities.
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.
This project will be led by NovaUCD, in collaboration with AIB, Kildare County Council, and Kildare LEO; agri-companies including, Devenish, Dairymaster, and Glanbia; investors Finistere, The Yield Lab, and Atlantic Bridge, and leading AgTech researchers and innovators at UCD, Teagasc and Wageningen, Netherlands.
'Ripe for disruption'
Tom Flanagan, UCD Director of Enterprise and Commercialisation, NovaUCD said, “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.”
“With AIB, and the support of our project collaborators, we will now develop a nationwide innovation challenge programme to identify a pipeline of early-stage high-potential AgTech innovations, entrepreneurs and new ventures to accelerate through the new AgTech Connector Innovation Hub.”
The new hub, he added, will also act as an international showcase destination for business and investors to view the best of innovation in AgTech in Ireland.”
Professor Alex Evans, Head, UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science, said, “This is a very exciting development for UCD Lyons Farm and the many agriculture and food entrepreneurs that we engage with.”
“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 €40 million 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.
Cutting edge of innovation
Minister Heather Humphreys, TD said, “The Regional Enterprise Development Fund is about supporting every region to build on its unique strengths and ultimately create sustainable jobs. Collaboration is at its core, among the public and private sectors, within and across regions.”
“The projects we are funding are at the cutting edge of innovation. 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 successful projects were selected through a rigorous multi-stage evaluation process managed by Enterprise Ireland, based on criteria which included: impacts and value for money; collaboration and participation; viability and sustainability; building regional strengths; and significance for innovation.
Julie Sinnamon, CEO, Enterprise Ireland said, “The fund plays an important role in building greater innovation capabilities in businesses across the regions. It also enhances collaboration between companies and key players in the regional enterprise ecosystem."
Image credit: UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science