Irish start-ups prospering in agrifood and green energy sectors

TechIreland report shows 58 agri/food tech firms raised €25.4m in funding last year

Irish technology start-ups are making waves in areas such as agri/food, green energy, financial services and education, according to new findings from TechIreland.

The not-for-profit organisation tracked 58 tech companies working in the agri/food sector last year, of which 20 were founded by women. Such companies combined raised €25.4 million in funding in 2017.

John Breslin, programme director of TechInnovate in Galway, said while the year saw lots of new initiatives in agtech, there needs to be more idea-stage companies who can avail of the early stage supports then scale to get at the bigger funds.

“2018 is the year to accelerate the agricultural innovation ecosystem in Ireland,” said Mr Breslin, in TechIreland’s report.


Green energy was another high-growth area recorded in the study. A total of 78 companies were found to be working in the segment and collectively, these companies raised €54.8 million last year.

Complex pricing

However, Alan Costello, venture investment leader at NDRC, warned that the sector was being held back by complex pricing and regulation.

“A major step forward in 2018 would be to develop more pricing transparency – a for the industry – that empowers start-ups to engage with business model development much more easily,” he said.

The study also revealed there were 160 fintech companies in the Republic last year, of which 16 were created by women. These start-ups combined raised €77.6 million last year.

Conor McAleavey, head of innovation at Leveris, called for the regulator to be more proactive in response to the opportunities of fintech and the threat of Brexit.

“In general terms when it comes to financial regulation, governmental polices and support for start-ups, we are very much lacking when compared to the standard bearers like the UK,” said Mr McAleavey.

The latest figures also showed there were 67 edtech firms operating in the Republic last year, who collectively raised €3.8 million in 2017.

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist