Agri-tech accelerator opens for entries as investor appetite grows

Dogpatch Labs and Alltech team up again for three-month programme for start-ups

Irish agri-tech start-ups are once again being invited to apply for a prestigious three-month accelerator programme that culminates with an opportunity to pitch their business to more than 4,000 attendees at one of the biggest agricultural events in the United States.

The inaugural Pearse Lyons Accelerator, which took place earlier this year, received 183 applications from 38 countries across six continents. The 10 start-ups selected for the programme hailed from eight different countries, including Ireland, with an average funding of $3.5 million (€2.96 million) each and $35 million (€30 million) collectively.

The brainchild of Alltech founder and president, Dr Pearse Lyons – who established the US-based animal health company in 1980 – the programme will see applicants working with the company and Dogpatch Labs in Dublin's Docklands to accelerate their business development.

The start-ups selected for the first programme collectively added $50 million (€42 million) in new qualified sales across 28 markets by the end of the accelerator. In addition, seven of the 10 participants were recently featured in CB Insight’s round-up of the top 100 global agri-tech firms.



Among the firms selected for the programme earlier this year were MagCrow, a Dublin-based spinout from UCD which has pioneered a magnetic spraying system that reduces spray drift by more than 80 per cent. MooCall, another Dublin-based start-up that has developed a wearable device which alerts farmers when a cow is going to give birth, was also chosen for the accelerator.

The programme is open to start-ups that have already raised funding, are ready to go to market and are looking for assistance in areas such as which segments to focus on.

Participants will receive access to Dr Lyons and other senior executives of Alltech, which has a presence in 129 countries. In addition, the accelerator concludes on the main stage at the Alltech Ideas conference in Lexington, Kentucky.

Commenting on his participation in the inaugural programme, Emmet Savage, chief executive of MooCall, said the accelerator was excellent in terms of mentoring, access to new customers, the ability to meet like-minded entrepreneurs and the help given in terms of pitching.

Global network

“The accelerator was also hugely beneficial from a distribution point of view as we got access to most of Alltech’s global network and we’ve done some great deals on the back of our participation in the programme,” said Mr Savage.

The timing of the accelerator is apt given that there is huge investor appetite for agri-tech firms at present. Start-ups in the space raised more than €3.7 billion in the first half of 2017 alone. Closer to home, the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) recently teamed up with Finistere Ventures for a new €20 million agri-tech fund.

Applications for the programme will close on December 22nd, 2017. To apply, visit

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist