22nd September 2021
Nine start-ups in the agriculture and food space now make up AgtechUCD Innovation Centre’s first cohort of early-stage companies in its inaugural accelerator programme.
The 12-week virtual accelerator programme will see the founders take part in workshops aimed at enhancing business skills and investor readiness. With mentorship and guest speeches from leading players in the industry, they will be introduced to AgtechUCD’s network of investors.
The list includes agritech start-ups from all across Ireland including Cork, Galway, Limerick, Dublin and Belfast, as well as one international entrant from Tunisia. They were selected from a larger pool of applicants from Kenya, Chile, and countries across Europe.
The programme will conclude in December with start-ups pitching their ideas to a panel of investors and will have the opportunity to be awarded prize money under various categories.
Here we take a closer look at the accelerator’s first-ever cohort of agritech start-ups shaking up the space.
Founded by brothers Jack and Nick Cotter, this start-up built Cotter Crate, a sheep monitoring system that uses both hardware and software to help farmers keep their animals healthy. It software helps farmers keep track of the sheep and identify which ones need to be attended to for vaccines or drenches – saving them both time and money. The brothers are young entrepreneurs who won the Engineers Ireland Student Innovator of The Year Award in 2019.
Crophound is a Belfast-based agritech start-up that helps farmers monitor crop health using remote sensors and artificial intelligence. It studies the crop from planting to harvest and gives users insight into the crop cycle helping farmers reduce cost, save time and increase crop yield. The company says it reduces the carbon footprint of farming by reducing the use of chemicals through data. It was founded by CEO Mark Elliott in 2020.
This Cork-based tech company founded by Ella Goddin has made a computer-controlled fodder production system that can be installed on-site in farms for feeding cattle. Fodderbox sustainably produces around one tonne of fresh fodder every day using pure water that is constantly recirculated. It also uses no fertilisers during its production of fodder, helping farmers reduce both water consumption and carbon footprint and enhance animal nutrition.
Freshgraze is another farm animal management system that aims to revolutionise grazing by developing automated robotic fences that move to direct animals to new pastures with fresh grass. The robotic fences can be controlled by the farmer remotely through a smartphone. This helps ensure that animals do not walk or defecate on pastures before they graze on it, meaning that farmers get most out of their land. It was found by Westmeath native Thomas Drumm and his sons Charlie and James Drumm.
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 helps poultry businesses save labour costs and time. Izario’s technology is also able to monitor hen welfare and the environmental status of the sheds, giving farmers enough data to make decision-making easy. Izario was founded by Raymond Heneghan and Stepan Dzhanov.
Niskus Biotec is a mobile fermenter start-up that transforms agri-waste into high-value products. It works with agri-food companies to provide onsite automated fermentation services that selects suitable fungal strains to develop products such as proteins, enzymes and intermediates. The company is based in Donegal and was founded by Vincent Farrelly.
This food waste monitoring start-up from Roscommon develops technology that helps customers in the food industry to keep track of waste habits. Positive Carbon uses bin scales and cameras to give users data to help make informed decisions on next purchases, preparation and production – helping them reduce food bills and reach their sustainability goals. It was founded in early 2020 by Aisling Kirwan and CEO Mark Kirwan.
ProvEye is a UCD spin-out that was co-founded by Dr Jerome O’Connell and Prof Nick Holden. The duo developed an intellectual property aimed at drone manufacturers, farm machinery manufacturers, agri-input providers, agricultural enterprises and data aggregators. ProvEye’s technology removes noise from image data, making it easier to understand and derive insights. It also works with multinationals and SMEs to develop cutting-edge remote sensing and geographic information system tools applied to various use cases through its consultancy service.
Based in Bahrain, this start-up has built a software platform, Smartbee, which enables beekeepers to monitor and track their bees. The company also gives users access to its suite of luxury and traceable honey products in an online marketplace. It was founded this year by CEO Khaled Bouchoucha who is based in Tunisia.