As the National Ploughing Championships fanfare trundles on, there are three ongoing agritech start-up supports in Ireland to help the industry innovate.
Just over 2m people are employed in Ireland as a whole, with the Central Statistics Office reporting 116,000 directly employed in agriculture, forestry and fishing.
If you add construction, supply chain and science roles related to these areas, then the claim from Minister for Jobs Mary Mitchell O’Connor, TD that 250,000 people are provided with “employment opportunities” may well be true.
Initiatives to support new businesses operating in this industry are key and, at the moment, there are three of note.
Agritech: Enterprise Ireland
Now in its second year, an Enterprise Ireland fund for agricultural and manufacturing start-ups worth €500,000 opened for applications today (21 September).
Start-ups are encouraged to apply to the Competitive Start Fund, with the organisation estimating that the agri-engineering sector is worth €250m in exports to the Irish economy.
The specific aim of the fund is to enable companies to reach their key commercial and technical milestones, and project themselves onto the wider global market.
Agritech: Bank of Ireland
Elsewhere, Bank of Ireland has created a new package to help early-stage operations market their product or service in an attempt to attract agri start-ups and small businesses.
Called the ‘Business Start-up Package’, Bank of Ireland’s product includes a collection of soft services, including digital and legal supports, as well as financial support to help the launch of a new enterprise.
Namechecking “agri customers and small business” in particular, Bank of Ireland has partnered with a digital marketing agency to add to the service.
A website, full financial review, support line and current account are included with the product, as well as access to Bank of Ireland’s StartLabs, which are dotted around Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway.
Finally, the EU-funded food producer support network Tradeit is seeking entrepreneurs to join the fold. It claims to host over 1,100 micro and SME food producers on an online marketplace, “to facilitate collaboration and communication”.
Tradeit estimates that over 70pc of 400,000-plus food producing SMEs in Europe have less than 10 employees, meaning that smaller operations are responsible for 49.6pc of total turnover and 63.3pc of employment in the food and drinks industry. Linking up a “highly fragmented” industry is therefore important.
The marketplace is available here.