Enterprise Ireland’s Innovation Arena traditionally showcases ground-breaking agri-related products and innovations from Irish agri-companies at the National Ploughing Championships. This year’s competition was once again moved fully online due to the cancellation of the event as a result of the pandemic. The fields of Ireland are famous for producing some of the best food in the world, so it comes as no surprise that we are developing a nation of agritech innovators and entrepreneurs, that will enhance our global reputation. More than 50 entries were received for this year’s Awards competition with 28 selected for virtual pitching.
The Overall Winner, and the winner of the Sustainable Agriculture Award, is marine biotech company Brandon Bioscience in Tralee, Co Kerry. Developed in collaboration with the traditional fertiliser manufacturer Target Fertilisers, the winning entry is an innovative new biostimulant product using extracts from common brown seaweed that has the potential to reduce nitrogen use on farms by up to 20%
Irish firm Samco won the Agricultural Engineering Award. Samco design and manufacture a three-in-one precision maize planter. The machine sows seed, sprays and puts down film. The product can reduce a farmer’s film use by 30% without compromising on crop performance.
Ireland’s long and proud history as a leader in the equine industry was reflected in the winner of the Best Overall Start-Up Award, EquiTrace, an app that works with a horse’s microchip to identify, locate and track individual animals as they move while also recording animal temperature and health records. EquiTrace was also the winner of a new award introduced this year, the Vet Technology Award. We hope to see many more entrants in this category next year.
We have also seen exciting developments in IOT and sensor technology. Agritech Start-up winners ApisProtect has developed innovative beehive monitoring technology for the hobby beekeeper to help them become more efficient. This technology will also help protect our most valuable pollinators across the globe. Alltech has further enhanced nutrition management with the development of a system using a new feed app for the farmer, along with a new ‘Farm Insight Dashboard’ and the ‘Generation 4 InTouch Controller’. All the information on the controller is mirrored by a tablet in the tractor cab.
Unfortunately, the buzz of attending the Innovation Arena at the National Ploughing Championships will never be replicated in an online competition. What it will achieve though is recognition of innovative and entrepreneurial activity that continues actively in this country despite Covid-19. Many Enterprise Ireland companies adjusted to deliver success in the last 18 months, whether it has been developing important PPE, or ensuring that vital food and industry services remained open. This resilience in particularly evident in the agri-community. The Innovation Arena in 2021 is the ideal platform to demonstrate ground-breaking developments, whether they are farmer-led inventions, commercial company innovations, or research-focused solutions that have the potential to change the industry. Hopefully in 2022 we will have the potential to host the Innovation Arena, taking center stage at the National Ploughing Championships once again.
Full List of winners:
- Overall Winner (Established company) and Sustainable Agriculture – Award: Brandon BioScience
- Overall Winner (Start-up company) and Vet Technology – Award: EquiTrace
- Agricultural Engineering Award and ACE Agritech Centre of Excellence – Award: Samco Agricultural
- Agritech Start-up – Award: ApisProtect
- Agritech Established Company – Award: Alltech
- Agri-safety – Award: Calving Assist
- One to Watch – Award: SlurryQuip
- Young Innovator of the Year – Award: Carbon Harvesters
- ifac Best Newcomer – Award: Moonsyst International
- On Farm Innovation – Award: Alfie Cox
- Founder’s Perpetual Trophy – Award: Crushmate
- AgTechUCD Startup – Award: FodderBox