Irish agritech could benefit from Brexit, State body claims

Enterprise Ireland identifies significant market opportunities for such companies

Dairymaster’s Mission Control platform in action

Dairymaster’s Mission Control platform in action

 

Irish companies are revolutionising the agriculture sector through their use of technology and have the potential to use this expertise to grow their business in other markets, Enterprise Ireland has said.

The State body has identified significant market opportunities for companies working in the agritech space, most notably in the UK, where spending on tech-related solutions has risen sharply in recent years.

Enterprise Ireland has just published a white paper highlighting the importance of technology in areas such as improving yield, the wellbeing of livestock and protection of the environment. It also uses the document to showcase Irish agritech expertise, revealing how both large players such as Abbey Machinery and start-ups such as Moocall are leading the way in innovating and enhancing traditional agricultural practices through technology.

Shauna Higgins, agritech market adviser for Enterprise Ireland in the UK, told The Irish Times that Britain is focused on increasing agritech adoption.

Figures from AgFunder, an online investment marketplace, show the UK agritech sector is currently worth more than £14 billion (about €16 billion), with the British government having invested a further £90 million in it late last year.

“Irish agritech companies have the unique advantage of a strong understanding of the farming industry and its needs, which has empowered them to innovate and enhance traditional agricultural practices,” said Ms Higgins.

She gave as an example the success Dairymaster has enjoyed with its Mission Control platform, which brings artificial intelligence to rotary milking. Ms Higgins also namechecked Herdwatch, a start-up that developed a popular farm management solution after realising that many farmers don’t use any form of software to manage their business.

Brexit threat

Ms Higgins downplayed the threat of Brexit on potential market opportunities, noting that the UK is currently the Republic’s largest export market and will remain so, regardless of whether a deal is agreed over the UK’s exit from the European Union.

In fact, she said that Enterprise Ireland sees a potential uplift arising from Brexit due to a need for the UK farming sector to become more efficient and self-sustainable.

“About 60 per cent of food is currently produced to feed the population and new technologies can help to improve the use of land. There is also an agricultural Bill coming down the line [in the UK] that is expected to focus on further encouraging the use of agritech in farming, so this bodes well for Irish companies looking to do business in the UK,” said Ms Higgins.