Agritech start-ups can now enter the Innovation Arena Awards online

4 Jun 2020

From left: Jack and Nick Cotter, founders of the Cotter Crate, beside Enterprise Ireland CEO Julie Sinnamon and NPA managing director Anna May McHugh. Image: Enterprise Ireland

This year’s National Ploughing Championships have been cancelled but Enterprise Ireland has said the Innovation Arena Awards will still go ahead online.

Although the National Ploughing Championships are not going ahead this summer due to the coronavirus pandemic and distancing restrictions, Enterprise Ireland has announced that its Innovation Arena Awards 2020 will still go ahead online.

The competition, which the agency holds each year in partnership with the National Ploughing Association (NPA), is accepting applications from Irish agri-companies online.

Enterprise Ireland has invited agritech start-ups to enter their products and innovations for consideration, as the competition celebrates its 10th anniversary.

The Innovation Arena

The Innovation Arena was first established by the NPA and Tanco Engineering founder Alfie Cox, with Enterprise Ireland coming on board for the last seven years.

Over the last decade, the Innovation Arena at the National Ploughing Championships has showcased innovative products created by Irish companies including Samco, Malone, Moocall, Herdwatch and Cross Engineering, which have gone on to achieve further success.

Last year’s winners included Dairymaster Mission Control, which introduced artificial intelligence into rotary milking, and a sheep handling system called the Cotter Crate, which was developed by Limerick brothers Jack and Nick Cotter.

Mark Christal, manager of regions and entrepreneurship at Enterprise Ireland, said: “This year’s Innovation Arena Awards will continue in recognition of the innovative and entrepreneurial activity that is taking place in towns and villages all over Ireland, despite the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Christal said that many Enterprise Ireland companies have adjusted their products and services in recent months, whether it has been developing important PPE, or ensuring that vital food and industry services remain open.

“This resilience is particularly evident in the agri-community,” he added. “Every year, the Innovation Arena Awards provide clear proof that Ireland is leading the way for innovation in the agri-engineering and agri-technology sector and I encourage all budding entrepreneurs and established enterprises to enter.”

Who can enter?

This year’s online competition is calling on innovators from a wide variety of industry sectors to enter.

This includes dairy and dry-stock farming, horticulture, information and communication technology, cloud and mobile-based software, animal health and genetics, water and waste management, environment and clean-tech, animal and farm management, farm safety and leading research.

Award categories include best agritech start-up, best agri-engineering established company, young innovator of the year and best agri-environmental enterprise. The best start-up and overall winner of the Innovation Arena Awards will be eligible to win up to €5,000 each.

There were almost 100 entries to last year’s competition, 50 of which were shortlisted as finalists and invited to exhibit at the Innovation Arena. Winners of this year’s event will also be eligible to exhibit in the 2020 winners enclosure section at the Innovation Arena in 2021.

NPA managing director Anna May McHugh said: “This year, with the current global pandemic, innovation in business has never been more important and significant as companies have to adapt to an evolving and unknown economic climate and marketplace.

“I would encourage all budding entrepreneurs to enter this year’s competition.”

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic