Food for thought as Belfast agritech Devenish raises €118m in funding

8 Aug 2018658 Views

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The historical Boyne Valley, Co Meath, close to where Devenish plans to locate its Global Innovation Centre at Dowth. Image: Kit Leong/Shutterstock

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Record investment will nourish Devenish Nutrition’s long-term R&D plans that include a new research centre in Dowth, Co Meath.

Devenish Nutrition, the Belfast-based agritech player, has secured €118m in funding, including €40m in investment from the European Investment Bank (EIB).

Combined with commitments from Ulster Bank and Danske Bank, the company now has €118m in long-term funding that will go towards R&D and growth plans.

‘Development of new animal nutrition products and research into improving soil health, animal health, human health and environmental sustainability are crucial components for the success of agriculture and food production across the world’
– ANDREW MCDOWELL

The investment will pave the way for 100 new jobs and a new R&D operation in Dowth, Co Meath.

“This funding will be invested in the business to build and grow our research and development and manufacturing capabilities as well as facilitate our mergers and acquisitions activity,” said group CEO Richard Kennedy.

“We take great pride that EIB have the confidence to support not just the future of Devenish, but the future of the Irish agri-food sector overall,

“Equally, the support of both Ulster Bank and Danske Bank is crucial in enabling us to progress our future growth plans as we seek to develop Devenish’s presence in domestic and international markets, and enhance our manufacturing capabilities worldwide,” Kennedy added.

No doubt, Devenish has big plans for Dowth

Devenish EIB investment being signed

From left: Devenish CEO Richard Kennedy, EIB vice-president Andrew McDowell, and Devenish chairman Owen Brennan. Image: Devenish

Devenish develops products for the animal feed and food industries in more than 30 countries and aims to increase its turnover by £100m by 2021 to around £315m.

The investment by the EIB is understood to be the largest-ever support for agritech on the island of Ireland by the bank. It is also its first support for the agri-business sector in the country under the Investment Plan for Europe.

The EIB investment will also enable Devenish to build a purpose-built Global Innovation Centre in Dowth, Co Meath, to develop its One Health ‘From Soil to Society’ R&D and innovation programme.

This also fits neatly with an initiative driven by Meath Enterprise, with support from Meath County Council and several stakeholders, to create the Boyne Valley Food Hub to accelerate food innovation and research, and turn Meath into the Silicon Valley of food.

“Agribusiness around the world faces increasing competitiveness as well as economic and political pressures,” explained Andrew McDowell, vice-president of the EIB.

“Devenish has been involved in animal nutrition for more than 60 years and their continuous investment in research and development of new products is crucial in addressing these pressures.

“This is a landmark deal for the EIB in Ireland and in the agri-business sector. The EIB loan will strengthen innovation activities in centres of excellence across the company and enable Devenish to thrive across the world, from its base in Europe.

“Development of new animal nutrition products and research into improving soil health, animal health, human health and environmental sustainability are crucial components for the success of agriculture and food production across the world,” McDowell said.

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com