Senior Manager Appointed to Drive New Food and Agri Innovation Programme at University College Dublin

Edel Mitchell, Senior Programme Manager, FAST-IP, UCD and Gary Ryan, Director, AgTechUCD.

Senior Manager Appointed to Drive New Food and Agri Innovation Programme at University College Dublin

AgTechUCD today announced the appointment of a Senior Programme Manager to manage the commercial and operational aspects of the new Food and Agriculture Sustainable Technology Innovation Programme (FAST-IP).

The goal of FAST-IP, a graduate entrepreneurship training programme to be delivered annually by University College Dublin (UCD) in partnership with Teagasc until the end of 2029, is to further enhance innovation in the food and agricultural sector. The programme will provide participants with the necessary skills to discover, develop and deliver ideas for new products and services in this sector and to accelerate the commercialisation pathway for these business ideas.

Edel Mitchell, the newly appointed Senior Programme Manager, has over 20 years of national and international cross sectoral experience spanning public, private and global consultancy sectors in Ireland, Europe, USA and Australia. She has a strong focus on regional development, building commercial and ecosystem partnerships, and developing tailored solutions to address unmet client and market needs, and is an alumna of the BioInnovate Ireland programme at University of Galway.

Applications close on 21 June for the first 12-month FAST-IP programme, which is aimed at mid-career professionals, and which will begin in September.

The FAST-IP 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.

Edel Mitchell, Senior Programme Manager, FAST-IP, said, “I am delighted to join UCD at this exciting time as we near the commencement of the inaugural FAST-IP programme in September. I look forward to working with the FAST-IP participants using design thinking methodologies to support the identification of unmet needs and development of innovative commercially scalable solutions in this exciting sector.”

She added, “In this new role I am particularly looking forward to partnering collaboratively with UCD and Teagasc to harness the collective domain expertise and wider industry networks. In addition, their farming, industry and entrepreneurial experiences and track record of supporting, fostering and spinning out successful start-ups within the Agtech sector will be instrumental in supporting the success of the FAST-IP programme.”

Edel Mitchell, Senior Programme Manager, FAST-IP, UCD

FAST-IP will use design-thinking methodologies and will have a practical focus. Through the programme participants will learn how to conduct needs-led innovation to develop market validated solutions to unmet needs in the areas of agricultural technology and food sustainability sectors. Participants will also spend 8-10 weeks immersed in agricultural environments including farms and food processing companies throughout the year long programme. FAST-IP will provide participants with a €38,000 tax-free scholarship during the programme.

Gary Ryan, Director, AgTechUCD, said, “We are delighted to welcome Edel, a results driven leader skilled in business development, project management, investment pitching and cultivating commercial partnerships, to UCD as a member of the team which will be delivering the new FAST-IP programme in partnership with our colleagues in Teagasc.

A key aspect of her role will be to support and mentor mid-career professionals who want to pivot their careers to entrepreneurship focused on the development of innovative technologies to support sustainable practices in the agricultural and food sectors.”

He added, “Applications are still open for the first FAST-IP programme, and I encourage anybody with a strong interest in building a business that will deliver innovative solutions in support of sustainable agri and food sectors to apply now for the programme before it is too late.”

FAST-IP is accredited by UCD at Level 9 on the National Qualifications Framework and participants who complete the programme will be awarded a Graduate Diploma in Agricultural Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

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

Professor Nick Holden, Professor of Biosystems Engineering in the UCD School of Biosystems and Food Engineering is the Academic Director of the Graduate Diploma Programme.

The AgTechUCD Innovation Centre, which is part of NovaUCD, is focused on promoting and accelerating early-stage start-ups and SMEs with disruptive innovations in the agri, agtech, agrifood, equine and veterinary sectors, as they build their innovative businesses into leading enterprises creating jobs.

FAST-IP, supported under the Innovators’ Initiative Programme, is co-funded by the Government of Ireland and the European Union through the Southern, Eastern and Midland Regional Programme 2021-2027.

UCD and Teagasc are partnering with FRS Recruitment to recruit participants for the FAST-IP programme starting this September.

For further information, and to apply for the programme by the deadline date of 21 June 2024, visit


12 June 2024

For further information contact Micéal Whelan, Communications and Media Relations Manager, UCD Research and Innovation, e:

Editors Notes

For further information about Innovators’ Initiative visit

FAST-IP participants will be trained how to Discover unmet needs, how to Develop an idea to an unmet need and bring an idea to a go/no go point quickly and efficiently, and lastly how to Deliver a solution or idea to market, making it into a viable product, service, or business.