New UCD accelerator programme for AgTech and FoodTech start-ups launches

Posted 16 June, 2021

Shane Whelan, agri-strategist, AIB, Nicky Deasy, Managing Partner, The Yield Lab Europe, Niamh Collins, Manager, AgTechUCD Innovation Centre and James Maloney, Senior Regional Development Executive, Enterprise Ireland at the launch of the AgTechUCD Agccelerator Programme at UCD Lyons Farm Credit: Conor McCabe Photography

University College Dublin, through the AgTechUCD Innovation Centre, has launched a new accelerator programme dedicated to early-stage AgTech and FoodTech start-up companies.

The AgTechUCD Agccelerator Programme is an intensive 12-week programme that includes dedicated business development workshops, investor readiness training, mentoring from AgTech and FoodTech experts and business advisors, and facilitated introductions to AgTechUCD’s venture capital and business angel networks.

The programme, which begins in September, will see all participating start-ups pitch their businesses to a panel of investors with the opportunity to be awarded prize funding in a number of award categories.

AgTechUCD, based at UCD Lyons Farm and part of NovaUCD, is focused on accelerating the launch and scaling of AgTech and FoodTech start-ups in Ireland.

It is funded through the Regional Enterprise Development Fund administered by Enterprise Ireland, and aims to support founding entrepreneurs build their innovative businesses into leading enterprises by providing access to incubation space and on-farm testing for new products and services.

"In addition to helping participating start-ups with their commercial development, the programme will also shine a spotlight on the start-ups, enabling them to increase their visibility and attract new customers and investors and to develop new partnerships,” said Niamh Collins, Manager, AgTechUCD Innovation Centre.

“The programme team has built strong relationships with strategic players in the ag and food tech sector in Europe and in the US, which will help the start-up founders to launch their products or services into new territories. We now look forward to working with our first cohort on our inaugural AgTechUCD Agccelerator Programme.”

Partners on the AgTechUCD Agccelerator Programme include AIB, The Yield Lab Europe, Bimeda, Devenish, Carberry, Origin Enterprises, Ornua and HerdWatch who are providing financial and mentoring support.

Additional mentoring support will be provided by Greencore, Kubota, Diarymaster, the Virtual Vet, Finistere, Macra Na Feirme and Atlantic Bridge. Participating start-ups will have access to specific supports from AWS Activation, Catalyze, Deloitte and FR Kelly.

"As one of Europe's largest seed stage specialist Agri-food Tech venture capital funds, we look forward to finding the best and brightest Irish startups, and supporting them to achieve international success, from this important early-stage programme," said Nicky Deasy, Managing Partner, The Yield Lab Europe.

“The Irish Agri-food sector, at all levels, is an integral part of the Irish economy and indeed our own business here in AIB,” added Denis Dudley, AIB Head of Business Banking, Branch Network.

“[We] remain committed to supporting sustainable business start-ups and our Business Advisor team in all of our branches nationwide are very happy to discuss what options are available and how we can support you along the way.”

James Maloney, Senior Regional Development Executive, Enterprise Ireland, said the new AgTechUCD Agccelerator Programme is “the best kickstart for all start-ups in the Agri and Food Tech sectors”.

“Ireland has and will always play a key part in shaping the future of food and science globally. Enterprise Ireland are delighted to support this key initiative through the AgTechUCD Innovation Centre,” he added.

For further information on the programme and to apply, please visit here.

By: David Kearns, Digital Journalist / Media Officer, UCD University Relations (with materials from Micéal Whelan, UCD Research and Innovation)