Three Irish agritech start-ups win big at UCD accelerator

19 Jan 2022

Raymond Heneghan of Izario, Jack Cotter and Nick Cotter of Cotter Agritech, and Dr Jerome O’Connell of ProvEye. Image: Nick Bradshaw/Fotonic

Cotter Agritech, ProvEye and Izario have emerged victorious at the first AgTechUCD accelerator programme for start-ups.

Three Irish agritech start-ups have been recognised for their innovations at the inaugural AgTechUCD Agccelerator Programme hosted by University College Dublin (UCD).

The programme was an intensive 12-week virtual accelerator for nine early-stage start-ups in the agritech and foodtech space. It included workshops, training and mentoring from experts as well as the opportunity to connect with venture capital and angel investment networks.

After pitching to a panel of judges, Cotter Agritech emerged as winner of the AIB and Yield Lab AgTech Start-up award, while ProvEye was named the Ornua Most Innovative AgTech Start-up – winning €10,000 each. Izario was declared One to Watch and received an €8,000 prize sponsored by Devenish, Herdwatch and Carbery.

AgTechUCD is part of the NovaUCD centre for new ventures and is based at UCD Lyons Farm in Kildare, where it provides incubation space and on-farm testing for new products and services. Niamh Collins, director of AgTechUCD, said it will continue to support this first cohort of start-ups following the accelerator.

Tom Flanagan, director of enterprise and commercialisation at NovaUCD, congratulated the three winning start-ups and said that the recognition will “increase their visibility in the marketplace” and help attract new customers and investors.

“It was great to see the level of international interest in this programme highlighting Ireland’s and UCD’s global reputation for innovation in the agritech and foodtech sectors and we look forward to running another AgTechUCD Agccelerator Programme,” he added.

Cotter Agritech

Founded by brothers Jack and Nick Cotter, this start-up built Cotter Crate, a sheep monitoring system that uses hardware and software to help farmers keep keep track of their animals and identify which ones need treatment. The brothers won best agri-engineering start-up at the 2019 Enterprise Ireland Innovation Arena Awards.

Cotter Agritech has recently concluded research trials with UCD, Queen’s University Belfast and 18 commercial farmers across Ireland and the UK to validate its technology – with a product launch scheduled for next month.


ProvEye is a UCD spin-out founded by Dr Jerome O’Connell and Prof Nick Holden. The duo developed technology to process images from satellites and drones and gain insights into the efficiency and sustainability of the agricultural industry.

ProvEye’s tech removes noise from image data, making it easier to understand and derive insights. This has applications in areas such as the measurement of crop yield, disease detection, productivity and environmental impact.


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 tech 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.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic