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AgTech and FoodTech start-ups chosen for UCD's new Accelerator programme

Posted 22 September, 2021

The AgTechUCD Innovation Centre has named the start-ups selected to participate in University College Dublin's new accelerator programme dedicated to early-stage AgTech and FoodTech companies.

These start-ups are based in Cork, Donegal, Dublin, Galway, Limerick, Westmeath in addition to Northern Ireland and Tunisia; and will undertake an intensive 12-week virtual programme which includes development workshops, investor readiness training, and mentoring from AgTech and FoodTech experts and business advisors.

Also part of the programme will be a series of guest speakers, and introductions to AgTechUCD’s venture capital and business angel networks.

“We are delighted with the calibre and global potential of the start-ups selected to participate in the inaugural AgTechUCD Agccelerator Programme,” said Tom Flanagan, Director of Enterprise and Commercialisation, NovaUC.

“The programme received applications from all across Ireland, and indeed from all around the world. This highlights the demand for this accelerator programme in Ireland and the interest from international start-ups underscores Ireland's leading reputation in the AgTech and FoodTech sectors."

The AgTechUCD Agccelerator Programme will conclude in early-December when participating start-ups will pitch their businesses to a panel of investors with the opportunity to be awarded prize funding in a number of award categories.

Applications for the inaugural programme were received start-ups across the world, including Chile, Croatia, England, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Kenya, The Netherlands and Ukraine.

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 and has been funded through the Regional Enterprise Development Fund administered by Enterprise Ireland.

AgTechUCD’s focus is supporting founding entrepreneurs as they build their innovative businesses into leading enterprises, though the AgTechUCD Agccelerator Programme, and by providing access to incubation space and to on-farm testing for new products and services at UCD Lyons Farm.

"During the next 12-weeks the AgTechUCD Agccelerator programme will focus on supporting the commercial development of the eight participating start-ups. Through the programme we will also be working with the start-ups to help increase their visibility in the marketplace, attract new customers and investors and forge new partnerships,” said Niamh Collins, Manager, AgTechUCD Innovation Centre.

“AgTech has already established key relationships with strategic players in the agtech and foodtech sectors in Ireland, across Europe and in the US, which will now leverage to support the participating start-ups 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,” she added.

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, Dairymaster, Dawn Farms, the Virtual Vet, IFAC, Finistere, Macra Na Feirme, HBAN and Atlantic Bridge.

The participating start-ups in the 2021 AgTechUCD Agccelerator Programme are:

  • Cotter Agritech is developing the Cotter Crate, a sheep handling and monitoring system to transform how sheep farmers care for their animals. The founders of Cotter Agritech, based in Limerick, are brothers Jack and Nick Cotter.
  • CropHound uses remote sensors and artificial intelligence to monitor crop health, growing conditions and crop potential from planting to harvest giving early insights and recommendations to users. Based in Belfast, CropHound's founder is Mark Elliott.
  • FodderBox has developed and built a fully-fitted, self-contained, computer-controlled fodder production system that arrives on-site, ready to plug-and-play. The founder of FodderBox, based in Cork, is Ella Goddin.
  • FreshGraze has developed a robotic moving fence and management system which portions out new pasture to grazing animals as they require it. The founders of FreshGraze, based in Co Westmeath, are Thomas Drumm and his sons Charlie and James.
  • Izario has developed an autonomous poultry robot that operates in broiler-breeder and commercial egg-laying hen houses. The founders of Izario, based in Galway, are Raymond Heneghan and Stepan Dzhanov.
  • Niskus BioTec is focused on the provision of innovative products and services to the agri-food and biotech sectors in fungal large-scale solid-state fermentation. The founder of Niskus BioTec, based in Donegal, is Vincent Farrelly.
  • ProvEye, a spin-out from the UCD School of Biosystems and Food Engineering, provides advanced processing software to derive quantitative data from images, collected by drones and other platforms, at unprecedented levels of accuracy. The founders of ProvEye, based in Dublin, are Dr Jerome O’Connell and Dr Nick Holden.
  • SmartBeeKeeper is developing SmartBee a cutting-edge hardware and software platform to enable beekeepers monitor and track their beehives. Its founder is Khaled Bouchoucha and he is based in Tunisia.

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