Origin Enterprises - UCD

Origin Enterprises is an Agri-services group that provides expert on farm agronomy services, including technology and strategic advice for arable, fruit and vegetable growers. In 2017 the company entered into a significant multi-million Euro collaborative research project with University College Dublin.

The project, called CONSUS (crop optimising through sensing, understanding and visualisation), is a €17.6 million project co-funded by Origin and SFI. The purpose of CONSUS is to carry out original research and development in the field of digital agriculture and to embody that in an advanced in-season decision support system for arable farmers. This will increase yield, provide better yield production and reduce the use of Agri-inputs. Additionally, other subsidiary projects aim to improve sensing, provide biological alternatives to pesticides and deal with problems such as soil compaction. The project involves 52 new research and software engineer hires in addition to the 19 academics from across four schools in UCD (Computer Science, Biosystems and Food Engineering, Agriculture and Food Science, and Biology and Environmental Science).

The Technology Transfer Office (TTO) based in NovaUCD led the contract negotiations with Origin. The TTO also undertook the due diligence on background IP introduced into the project including software and datasets, to ensure such background IP was unencumbered and could be licensed to Origin Enterprises.

The TTO supported the development of a coherent IP strategy and provided IP training workshops to researchers from both UCD and Origin. To date, the project has yielded three patent applications for which the TTO carried out the assessments and co-ordinated the patenting process. An evaluation licence to the IP has been executed and further licenses are at negotiation stage.

The project is contributing directly to the R&D strategy of the company as Derek Wilson, Chief Information Officer at Origin said

“The collaboration has made research progress towards a core R&D goal of the company which is to take its existing agricultural platform to the next level by including machine learning innovations among others.”

Equally, UCD has benefitted by being able to recruit and work with a large cohort of new researchers thus enhancing UCD’s reputation in this field. Through the collaboration, the agronomy company with real-life data on an ongoing basis. Professor Gregory O’Hare, Lead Principal Investigator said

“This symbiotic collaboration has proven highly successful and mutually beneficial bringing together the considerable research expertise of UCD, researchers of the highest quality recruited globally and access to significant and leading-edge company assets both in the form of skilled practitioners and technologically advanced farm-based facilities.”

Publish date: 2019 

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