The 12-week accelerator will help start-up founders become more investor-ready, concluding in a pitch to a panel of investors in December.
Nine early-stage start-ups in the agriculture and food space are taking part in a new accelerator programme at University College Dublin (UCD).
The inaugural AgTechUCD Agccelerator Programme will see start-up founders take part in workshops aimed at enhancing business skills and investor readiness. Throughout the 12-week virtual accelerator, they will receive mentorship from leading players in the industry, hear from guest speakers and be introduced to AgTechUCD’s network of investors.
The participants include agritech start-ups from all across Ireland including Cork, Galway, Limerick, Dublin and Belfast, as well as one international entrant from Tunisia. They were selected from a larger pool of applicants from Kenya, Chile and countries across Europe.
The programme will conclude in December with start-ups pitching their ideas to a panel of investors. Participants will have the opportunity to be awarded prize funding under various categories.
Here we take a closer look at the accelerator’s first-ever cohort of agritech start-ups.
Founded by brothers Jack and Nick Cotter, this start-up built Cotter Crate, a sheep monitoring system that uses both hardware and software to help farmers keep keep track of their animals and identify which ones need treatment. The brothers are young entrepreneurs who won the Engineers Ireland Student Innovator of The Year Award in 2019 and best agri-engineering start-up at the 2019 Enterprise Ireland Innovation Arena Awards.
CropHound is a Belfast-based agritech start-up that helps farmers monitor crop health using remote sensors and artificial intelligence. It studies the crop from planting to harvest and gives users insight into the crop cycle, with the aim of helping farmers reduce costs, save time and increase crop yield. The company also says it reduces the carbon footprint of farming by reducing the use of chemicals through data. It was founded by CEO Mark Elliott in 2020.
This Cork-based tech company founded by Ella Goddin has made a computer-controlled fodder production system that can be installed on farms for feeding livestock. FodderBox sustainably produces around one tonne of fresh fodder every day using pure water that is constantly recirculated. It also uses no fertilisers and aims to help farmers reduce both water consumption and carbon footprint and enhance animal nutrition. It was a winner at the Enterprise Ireland Innovation Arena Awards last week.
Freshgraze is another farm animal management system that aims to revolutionise grazing by developing automated robotic fences that move to direct animals to new pastures with fresh grass. The robotic fences can be controlled by the farmer remotely through a smartphone. This helps ensure that animals do not walk or defecate on pastures before they graze on them, meaning that farmers get most out of their land. It was founded in Westmeath by Thomas Drumm and his sons Charlie and James.
This poultry-focused start-up from Galway develops autonomous robots that use AI and computer vision software to detect and retrieve eggs laid by hens in broiler-breeder and commercial henhouses. This aims to help poultry businesses save labour costs and time. Izario’s technology is also able to monitor hen welfare and the environmental status of the sheds, giving farmers data to help with decision-making. It was founded by Raymond Heneghan and Stepan Dzhanov.
Niskus BioTec works with agri-food and biotech companies on large-scale, solid-state fungal fermentation. It selects suitable fungal strains for processes and develops fungal-derived products such as proteins, enzymes and intermediates. The company is based in Donegal and was founded by Vincent Farrelly.
This food waste monitoring start-up from Roscommon develops technology that helps customers in the food industry to keep track of waste habits. Positive Carbon uses bin scales and cameras to give users data to help make informed decisions on next purchases, preparation and production – helping them reduce food bills and reach their sustainability goals. It was founded in early 2020 by Aisling and Mark Kirwan.
ProvEye is a UCD spin-out that was co-founded by Dr Jerome O’Connell and Prof Nick Holden. The duo developed technology aimed at drone manufacturers, farm machinery manufacturers, agri-input providers, agricultural enterprises and data aggregators. ProvEye’s tech removes noise from image data, making it easier to understand and derive insights. It also works with multinationals and SMEs to develop cutting-edge remote sensing and geographic information system tools applied to various use cases through its consultancy service.
SmartBeeKeeper has built a software platform that enables beekeepers to monitor and track their bees. The company also gives users access to luxury and traceable honey products in an online marketplace. It was founded this year by CEO Khaled Bouchoucha, who is based in Tunisia.
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