UCD to grow food and agritech start-ups with new accelerator

16 Jun 2021

Shane Whelan, agri-strategist at AIB; Nicky Deasy, managing partner at Yield Lab Europe; Niamh Collins of AgTechUCD Innovation Centre; and James Maloney of Enterprise Ireland. Image: Conor McCabe Photography

The 12-week programme aims to ‘shine a spotlight’ on Irish start-ups in this sector and help them expand internationally.

A new accelerator programme dedicated to agritech and food-tech start-ups is being launched at University College Dublin (UCD).

The AgTechUCD Agcelerator Programme is starting this September, with the aim of launching and scaling early-stage ventures.

It will be an intensive 12-week programme, with two mornings per week online, including business development workshops, investor readiness training, mentoring from experts and advisers, guest speakers, and introductions to VC and angel networks.

The programme will conclude in early December, when participating start-ups will pitch their business ideas to a panel of investors. There will be funding prizes across a number of categories.

“In addition to helping participating start-ups with their commercial development, the programme will also shine a spotlight on the start-ups, enabling them to increase their visibility and attract new customers and investors and to develop new partnerships,” said Niamh Collins, manager of the AgTechUCD Innovation Centre.

“The programme team has built strong relationships with strategic players in the ag and food tech sector in Europe and in the US, which will help the start-up founders to launch their products or services into new territories.”

AgTechUCD is part of the NovaUCD centre for new ventures and is based at UCD Lyons Farm in Kildare, which is used for teaching and research.

It provides incubation space and on-farm testing for new products and services, and has been funded through the Regional Enterprise Development Fund administered by Enterprise Ireland.

James Maloney, senior regional development executive of Enterprise Ireland, said the new accelerator programme would be “the best kick-start” for agritech start-ups in the country.

“Ireland has and will always play a key part in shaping the future of food and science globally,” he added.

Partners on the programme that are providing financial and mentoring support include AIB, Yield Lab Europe, Bimeda, Devenish, Carberry, Origin Enterprises, Ornua and Herdwatch. Additional partners will provide mentoring and other supports.

Yield Lab Europe is an agritech accelerator and venture capital fund based in Ireland, which recently closed a new fund at almost €50m. Nicky Deasy, managing partner of the fund, described the new UCD accelerator as an “important early-stage programme”.

“As one of Europe’s largest seed-stage specialist agri-food tech venture capital funds, we look forward to finding the best and brightest Irish start-ups and supporting them to achieve international success,” she said.

More information about the programme can be found on the UCD website.

Sarah Harford was sub-editor of Silicon Republic