Ireland invests €35m in tech research to make its dairy industry a world leader

2 Feb 2015

Ireland’s Government is investing €35m in two new technology centres in a strategy aimed at positioning Ireland as a world leader in dairy innovation.

The investment will also boost Ireland’s milk production capacity by 50pc by 2020.

The investment will take the form of two initiatives. The first, a €25 million Dairy Processing Technology Centre (DPTC) supported by the Department of Jobs through Enterprise Ireland and the dairy industry partners which will be hosted by University of Limerick.

The second, a €10 million investment by Teagasc and the dairy industry shareholders in the expansion of the Moorepark Technology Ltd (MTL) pilot plant facility in Fermoy Co. Cork.

Some 10 major dairy companies are involved in the strategy, out of whom seven are investing in both initiatives, including: Arrabawn Co-op, Aurivo, Carbery, Dairygold, Glanbia, Kerry, and Tipperary Co-Op.

Lakeland Dairies is part of the DPTC consortium only. The Irish Dairy Board and North Cork Co-op are investing in MTL. University of Limerick will lead 9 other Research Performing Organisations (RPO’s) in the DPTC to deliver the research and technology required creating 52 new jobs for highly-skilled researchers over the 5 year term of the centre.

‘It’s like adding a new software engine to the dairy sector’

“This is a sector which offers massive potential for regional employment, which is a major focus of our 2015 plan, and clearly the removal of milk quotas offers huge opportunities that we must exploit in a planned and strategic way in order to support jobs growth,” the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton explained.

“That is why Minister Coveney and I have decided, through our agencies Enterprise Ireland and Teagasc, to make this significant investment in innovation in the dairy industry.

“This market focused technology centre supported by my Department will bring industry, the education system and Government together to develop commercial new technologies which will support the growth of the dairy industry here in the coming years. In this way, we can crucially create more jobs across the regions, and ultimately improve communities right across the country,” Bruton said.

DPTC CEO Padraig McPhillips said that the two key outputs of the DPTC will be knowledge and people. “Both will be absorbed by the industry and used to deliver more efficient processes and better products and to the dairy sector. The DPTC is like adding a new software engine to the dairy sector,” McPhillips said.

Teagasc director Gerry Boyle said the purpose of MTL will be to provide a platform to support the ambitions of the dairy industry to produce value added food and ingredients for international markets.

“Ultimately, this kind of investment can build the kind reputation for excellence in all things dairy that creates a platform not only for export growth, but also for inward investment by major global players in the food industry,” Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney TD said.

Irish Dairy image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years