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Biosystems and Food Engineer Receives 2024 NovaUCD Innovation Champion of the Year Award

Friday, 12 April, 2024

Prof. Nick Holden, UCD School of Biosystems and Food Engineering, recipient of the 2024 NovaUCD Innovation Champion of the Year Award

Nick Holden, Professor of Biosystems Engineering in the UCD School of Biosystems and Food Engineering, has been named the recipient of the 2024 NovaUCD Innovation Champion of the Year Award. His research interests are focused on the sustainability of agriculture, food systems and the bioeconomy, with a particular focus on using life cycle assessment, systems analysis and remote sensing.

Professor Holden was presented with the Award by Professor Orla Feely, President, University College Dublin (UCD) during the annual presentation of the NovaUCD Innovation Awards which took place at the UCD University Club.

Professor Orla Feely, President, UCD said, “The NovaUCD Innovation Awards have become a key annual event highlighting the University’s commitment to innovation and recognise the achievements of our research, innovation and entrepreneurial communities and I congratulate all who have received this year’s Awards. I would also like to wish the Awardees future success as they continue to work towards delivering economic and societal impact in Ireland, and further afield, through their commercialisation, consultancy, entrepreneurial and innovation activities.”

Professor Nick Holden and Professor Orla Feely, President, UCD

Professor Holden is Deputy Director and co-Principal Investigator (PI) of BiOrbic, Bioeconomy SFI Research Centre and a PI in the UCD Earth Institute and UCD Institute of Food and Health. Professor Holden was also co-PI of the CONSUS project, a five-year strategic partnership between UCD and Origin Enterprises PLC supported by Science Foundation Ireland.

Since joining UCD in 1995 Professor Holden has been championing innovation and entrepreneurship within his School and College and through his leadership roles at UCD.

He has collaborated with over 60 companies on technology development and sustainability assessment and his research portfolio has resulted in the submission of a number of invention disclosures related to remote sensing, two new venture ideas, one of which was incorporated as Proveye, a UCD spin-out company.

Proveye, headquartered at NovaUCD is an Enterprise Ireland high-potential start-up which is pioneering the use of earth observation, combined with intelligent analytics, to develop a platform for farm-level decision-making and corporate measurement, reporting and verification of activities related to nature-based credits and Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSDR).

On receiving the 2024 NovaUCD Innovation Champion of the Year Award, Professor Nick Holden, said, “When I started working in UCD I focused on research and was not particularly interested in anything commercial.

Fifteen years ago, my interest was piqued and I completed what was then known as the NovaUCD Campus Company Development Programme, with an idea called AgriTime. I realised then that there was a lot more to innovation than I had thought. I kept working away encouraging those around me to think about the innovation potential of our research, both the things that can be directly exploited through licensing and spin-out, and also the less tangible activities. It is great to be recognised by UCD for these efforts.”

Professor Holden is also the academic director of the new Food and Agriculture Sustainable Technology Innovation Programme (FAST-IP), an innovation and entrepreneurship programme to be delivered annually by UCD in partnership with Teagasc over the next 6 years.

The focus of FAST-IP is to drive innovation within the food and agriculture sector leading to the creation of more high potential start-ups (HPSUs) and jobs in this sector of the economy. The €7 million programme forms part of Enterprise Ireland’s Innovators’ Initiative which is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, under the auspices of the Southern, Eastern and Midland Regional Programme 2021-2027.

FAST-IP will be based in the AgTechUCD Innovation Centre at UCD Lyons Farm in Co. Kildare and will be delivered by the UCD School of Biosystems and Food Engineering, in partnership with Teagasc and NovaUCD.

Professor Holden added, “I would like to thank everyone who has worked with me in the past and I am excited to have the opportunity to work with the next generation of agrifood entrepreneurs over the next few years alongside the experts at NovaUCD, AgTechUCD and Teagasc to deliver the FAST-IP programme.”

FAST-IP will have 5 intakes of 15 participants, beginning this September and running until the end of 2029. The 12-month in-person programme, aimed at entrepreneurially minded professionals, is accredited by UCD at Level 9 on the National Qualifications Framework. Participants who complete the programme will be awarded a Graduate Diploma in Agricultural Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

The annual NovaUCD Innovation Awards highlight successes made in areas of knowledge transfer, consultancy, entrepreneurship and the promotion of an innovation culture, by members of the UCD research, innovation and entrepreneurial community.

A total of 7 Awards were presented by Professor Orla Feely, UCD President. The other Awardees are;

2024 NovaUCD Innovation Award: Professor Therese Kinsella, CEO and founder, ATXA Therapeutics

2024 NovaUCD Invention of the Year Award: Associate Professor Nan Zhang, UCD School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering

2024 NovaUCD Spin-out of the Year Award: EpiCapture

2024 NovaUCD Consultancy of the Year Award: Professor Fiona Timmins, UCD School of School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems

2024 NovaUCD Licence of the Year Award: Go Eve

2024 NovaUCD Founder of the Year Award: John Byrne, CEO and Founder, Corlytics.

Contact UCD School of Biosystems and Food Engineering

Room 303. Agriculture & Food Science Centre, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.
T: +353 1 716 7484 | Location Map(opens in a new window)