SVG Ventures partners with UCD to support Irish agritech start-ups

22 Mar 2021

Image: © Syda Productions/

AgTechUCD, which provides support to agritech and food start-ups in Ireland, is teaming up with the VC firm’s Thrive accelerator programme.

University College Dublin (UCD) has joined up with venture capital firm SVG Ventures to scout agritech start-ups in Ireland and Europe for investment.

The university’s AgTechUCD innovation centre is partnering with SVG’s Thrive accelerator programme to assist with the Thrive Europe Challenge. SVG is based in Silicon Valley and was founded by Limerick man John Hartnett.

The programme specialises in agrifood investments and is seeking out early-stage tech start-ups tackling challenges in agriculture. It has been run in the US with several early-stage companies and now, following similar efforts in Africa, Australia and Canada, it is turning its attention to Europe.

According to the organisers, the European edition is “closely aligned” with the targets of the EU’s Green Deal and the €10bn Farm to Fork strategy to help reduce emissions and create more sustainable food production processes in Europe.

“The Farm to Fork Strategy will be central to achieving the UN SDGs [sustainable development goals] and carbon neutrality and aligns with the key goals of our global initiative,” Hartnett, chief executive and founder of SVG Ventures, said.

Hartnett’s firm has backed several Irish start-ups in the broad agritech and food sectors, including Nuritas, MagGrow and Orbis MES, which was acquired by last year.

The inaugural Thrive Europe Challenge will support hundreds of Irish and European founders over the coming months in advance of the finals on 7 October. The winner will be added to the finals of the global Thrive accelerator programme in California.

AgTechUCD runs support programmes for agritech and food-tech start-ups with help in testing products in a farm setting or in food processing facilities.

“AgTechUCD is focused on building, connecting and supporting a broad agriculture innovation ecosystem, and this challenge programme is a great opportunity for Irish and European start-ups to accelerate their growth and development,” Prof Orla Feeley, vice-president of research, innovation and impact at UCD, said.

Jonathan Keane is a freelance business and technology journalist based in Dublin