Ireland’s mid-east ranked in world top 10 start-up ecosystems for agritech

14 May 2019

Image: © Stephane/

Plenty of food innovation for thought.

Ireland’s mid-east region – comprising counties Kildare, Louth, Meath and Wicklow – has been listed among the world’s top 10 start-up ecosystems for supporting agritech and food innovation.

The Global Startup Ecosystem Report (GSER) examines the support structures in countries around the world that enable start-ups to grow and scale. The GSER is based on data from thousands of start-up founders and research on millions of companies, supplemented with data from partners Crunchbase, Dealroom and Orb Intelligence.

Future Human

The region’s inclusion in this year’s GSER report is a pilot project spearheaded by Meath Enterprise.

Crunching nutritional numbers

Two men in dark suits with blue ties talking at a table while one cradles a white cup.

From left: Meath Enterprise’s Gary O’Meara with An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, TD. Image: Meath Enterprise

Among the key findings of the report is that the mid-east region has a top 10 activation ecosystem when it comes to agritech – the application of technology to food production – and food innovation, and it has already managed to create $150m in ecosystem value.

The report also cites R&D tax credits, attractive corporate tax rates and low talent costs among the reasons why the region remains attractive to entrepreneurs.

An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, TD, was briefed on the report during a visit to Meath Enterprise’s Kells Tech Hub last week (10 May).

“It’s been really great to see first-hand the work being carried out here at Kells Tech Hub,” Varadkar said. “It is great to see a Local Authority that is really leading out on enterprise development. It’s also great to see the focus on food innovation. We know that consumers are seeking out taste, traceability and sustainability – they want to know where their food is coming from and how it was produced. Meath Enterprise, through its Kells Tech Hub and Boyne Valley Food Innovation District initiatives, is really responding to that demand.”

Meath Enterprise, the Navan-based enterprise development company behind the Boyne Valley Food Innovation District, has partnered with Startup Genome, a research and advisory company based in California that delivers evidence-based strategy frameworks for start-up ecosystems across all phases of development.

The inclusion of the Irish counties in the report puts the mid-east’s start-up community on a global stage, according to Gary O’Meara, CEO of Meath Enterprise. He said the aim of the project and the ongoing partnership with Startup Genome is to help develop a structured framework with actions based on the region’s strengths and global best practice.

O’Meara said the GSER saw the mid-east’s ecosystem benchmarked against 50 ecosystems around the world, from Silicon Valley to Tel Aviv.

“It has put us in the top 10 ecosystems based on global rankings in terms of what we are already doing but also what we are planning to do so, as an emerging ecosystem in agritech and food, we are regarded as one to watch out for.

“The data generated by the report will help drive visibility of start-up enterprises in the three counties as well as focus on the region’s strengths and shortcomings, enabling local policy leaders to take informed action where needed.”

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