Google unveils promising agritech winner of Adopt a Startup programme

6 Jun 2018

From left: Martin O’Donnell, sales director, Terra Liquid Minerals; Fionnuala Meehan, head of Google Ireland; Padraig Hennessy, CEO, Terra Liquid Minerals. Image: Shane O’Neill/SON Photographic

Agritech firm Terra Liquid Minerals has beaten a number of big-name start-ups to the punch at the latest Google Adopt a Startup contest.

Google’s Adopt a Startup programme has become one of the biggest events on the Irish start-up calendar, and this year’s programme had more of an emphasis on strategy and business planning, as well as scaling businesses to stay ahead.

After a call-out for companies last February, more than 100 applied for one of the 30 available spaces on this year’s spring programme.

Only eight managed to reach the pitch competition event in front of a judging panel that included the head of Google Ireland, Fionnuala Meehan, where they had to sell their business idea in just seven minutes.

After much deliberation, Kildare-based start-up Terra Liquid Minerals was named as the overall winner, joining alumni such as Veri, FoodCloud, NewsWhip, CoderDojo and Jobbio.

The company’s key product is an automated dispensing system for animal liquid supplements and medication. In the five years it has been in business, it has worked with farmers across the world to improve herd health using agritech and automation to accurately feed minerals in water.

Asa part of its prize, Terra Liquid Minerals will receive €10,000 in AdWords credit and will become eligible for the Google Cloud Platform for start-ups which comes with $100,000 Google Cloud credit.

New technologies to traditional sectors

As runners-up, Openback – a company using artificial intelligence to improve how other companies interact with their customers through smart notifications – will receive €5,000 in credit.

Third-place finalist Huggnote – a music messaging app – will receive €3,000 in credit.

A special prize of six months’ free hot-desking was awarded by the co-working space provider Dogpatch Labs to one of the original shortlisted companies, Staypal.

Finally, for the seven companies that missed out on the top prize, they will now be eligible to take part in the Google Cloud programme with an additional $20,000 in credits.

Speaking of the first-place finish, Terra Liquid Minerals’ CEO Padraig Hennessy said, “We’re delighted to be named winner of Google’s Adopt a Startup programme and feel it validates the hard work we’ve put into the programme over the past 12 weeks.

“We set a number of objectives and key results at the outset of the programme and we achieved them with significant results with the help from our team of Googlers.”

Speaking of why the company was named as the winner, Paddy Flynn, head of Google Ireland’s start-up programme, said: “Terra Liquid Minerals is a great example of an innovative Irish company bringing new technologies to traditional sectors, in this case agriculture.

“Terra Liquid Minerals has developed an Irish solution to a global problem and have the potential to be a game-changer in the sector.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic