Winners revealed for AgTechUCD’s inaugural Accelerator Programme for start-ups

Posted 19 January 2022

A trio of firms have been named as the first ever winners of University College Dublin’s accelerator programme dedicated to early-stage AgTech and FoodTech start-up companies.

Cotter Agritech, ProvEye and Izario were announced as winners following final pitches to the AgTechUCD Agccelerator Programme judging panel.

Cotter Agritech was named the AIB and Yield Lab AgTech Start-up 2022 and will receive €10,000, ProvEye won the Ornua Most Innovative AgTech Start-up 2022 category and will also receive €10,000, and Izario was named the AgTechUCD One to Watch 2022 and received €8k sponsored by Devenish, Herdwatch and Carbery.

"I would like to congratulate Cotter Agritech, ProvEye and Izario, each with significant global ambitions, as the inaugural winners of our new AgTechUCD Agccelerator Programme,” said Tom Flanagan, Director of Enterprise and Commercialisation, NovaUCD.

“This programme focused on supporting the commercial development of the eight participating start-ups and during the programme we have assisted them to increase their visibility in the marketplace, to attract new customers and investors and to forge new partnerships.”

He added: “It was great to see the level of international interest in this programme highlighting Ireland's and UCD’s global reputation for innovation in the AgTech and FoodTech sectors and we look forward to running another AgTechUCD Agccelerator Programme.”

Donal Whelton, Head of Agriculture, AIB; Tom Flanagan, Director of Enterprise and Commercialisation, UCD; Jack Cotter, co-founder, Cotter Agritech; James Maloney, Senior Regional Development Executive, Enterprise Ireland; Nick Cotter, co-founder, Cotter Agritech; Niamh Collins, Director, AgTechUCD Innovation Centre and David Bowles, Managing Partner, The Yield Lab. (Credit: Nick Bradshaw, Fotonic)

Cotter Agritech, a Limerick-based start-up, was founded by brothers Jack and Nick Cotter, with a vision of dramatically reducing chemical use in agriculture while improving productivity and profitability.

The company has developed a system that uses advanced algorithms to enable livestock farmers transition from blanket treating animals with antiparasitic drugs, to a very precise application by identifying and targeting only the animals that need treatment.

This approach reduces antiparasitic drug use by up to 50%, which reduces costs, prevents against parasite resistance, and reduces impacts on biodiversity.

Cotter Agritech has recently concluded research trials with UCD, QUB, and 18 commercial farmers across Ireland and the UK which have validated the solution. The hardware and software products are being launched next month.

Niamh Collins, Director, AgTechUCD Innovation Centre; Dr Jerome O’Connell, MD and co-founder, ProvEye; Tom Flanagan, Director of Enterprise and Commercialisation, UCD; James Maloney, Senior Regional Development Executive, Enterprise Ireland and Eva Griffin, Sustainability and CSR Specialist, Ornua. (Credit: Nick Bradshaw, Fotonic)

ProvEye, a UCD spin-out, uses first-to-market intellectual property to process and analyse UAV and satellite imagery to obtain insights into the efficiency and sustainability of the agricultural industry. The software gives unprecedented accuracy in the measurement of crop yield, disease detection, productivity, and environmental impact from leaf to field to farm to the national scale.

The company founders, Dr Jerome O’Connell and Professor Nick Holden, UCD School of Biosystems and Food Engineering, have 30+ years of experience in the delivery of novel software solutions for the agriculture and natural resources sectors.

Izario has developed an autonomous robot that operates in broiler-breeder and commercial egg-laying hen barns. The robot carries out tasks similar to the farmer such as picking floor eggs, monitoring bird health and welfare along with monitoring the sheds environmental outputs.

The robot reduces labour inputs whilst also allowing farmers/processors to make informed decisions based on data. The founders of Izario, based in Galway, are Raymond Heneghan and Stepan Dzhanov.

Anthony O’Callaghan, Chief Information Officer, Carbery Group, Raymond Heneghan, CEO and co-founder, Izario and Dr Cornelia Grace, RDIco Project Manager, Devenish Nutrition. (Credit: Nick Bradshaw, Fotonic)

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.

Its inaugural AgTechUCD Agccelerator Programme was an intensive 12-week virtual programme, included dedicated business development workshops and investor readiness training, mentoring from AgTech and FoodTech experts and business advisors, guest speakers and facilitated introductions to AgTechUCD’s venture capital and business angel networks.

“We will continue to support our first cohort of start-ups, who are disrupting the agtech industry, creating opportunities for a healthier, more efficient and more sustainable agri-future, as they launch or scale their products into markets around the world by leveraging our relationships with strategic players in the agtech and foodtech sectors, at home and abroad,” said Niamh Collins, Director, AgTechUCD Innovation Centre.

Partners on the AgTechUCD Agccelerator Programme included AIB, The Yield Lab Europe, Devenish, Carbery, Ornua and Herdwatch who provided financial and mentoring support. Additional mentoring support was provided by the Virtual Vet, IFAC, HBAN, Alltech, Dublin BIC, AWS Activation, Microgen Biotech, MJB Consulting and DCU Invent.

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