Showcasing the agritech advantage
Enterprise Ireland is hosting the Innovation Arena and Awards once again at this year’s National Ploughing Championships
The Enterprise Ireland Innovation Arena at the National Ploughing Championships. Photograph: Colm Mahady/Fennells
Irish agritech companies will have an opportunity to compete for the €15,000 top prize at the Enterprise Ireland Innovation Arena and Awards at the National Ploughing Championships, which will take place at Ballintrane, Feenagh, Co Carlow, from September 17th-19th next.
The Innovation Arena is open to Irish businesses of any size and entrepreneurs within the agri sector, giving them the opportunity to showcase their pioneering innovations to the more than 100,000 visitors to the Ploughing Championships.
Judging for the awards will take place at the arena throughout the three-day event and categories include best agri-technology start-up, best agri-engineering established company, young innovator of the year and best agri-environmental enterprise. The overall winner will receive a prize worth €15,000.
The overall winner in 2018 was Agri-Spread, a leading Irish agricultural machinery manufacturer involved in the design and manufacture of next-generation precision fertiliser and lime-spreading equipment.
More than 90 per cent of the firm’s output is destined for a range of overseas markets including Canada, the UK and Australia. The innovation on show last year integrated GPS tracking with weight sensing, and sectional and variable rate control into the machine. This maximises crop yield with minimal fertiliser or lime inputs.
Other winners included FreshGraze, an automated moving fence system that allocates fresh grass to grazing animals and offers much-needed flexibility when it comes to grassland management. Another innovation, Acidose 1, is a device that regulates water pH for poultry houses, helping to reduce the need for antibiotics in poultry farming.
Launching the 2019 Innovation Arena, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys said: “The Government, through Enterprise Ireland, is committed to supporting regionally-based companies and entrepreneurs and our focus through the Future Jobs framework is to ensure Irish companies are resilient in the face of new challenges and embrace new opportunities and technologies. The Innovation Arena is clear proof that Ireland is leading the way for innovation in the agri-engineering and agri-technology sector and I encourage all budding entrepreneurs and established enterprises in the field to enter what is a fantastic showcase platform at this prime three-day event.”
“We are delighted to be partnering with Enterprise Ireland to host the Innovation Arena for the fifth consecutive year,” added Anna May McHugh of the National Ploughing Association. “The Innovation Arena at the National Ploughing Championships is an opportunity not to be missed for anyone who has a good business idea, product or service to showcase at Europe’s largest outdoor event. Located at the core of the activity, the Innovation Arena will attract tens of thousands of visitors over the three days, where an exhibitor is guaranteed prime positioning in front of a targeted stakeholder audience.”
There will also be an international dimension, according to Mark Christal, manager, Regions and Entrepreneurship with Enterprise Ireland. “Enterprise Ireland is committed to supporting companies and entrepreneurs with global ambition where innovation is at the core of their business offering,” he says. “The Innovation Arena is a key platform for promoting the Irish advantage where the top innovations are showcased to both a captive domestic and international audience. Over 100 international buyers visited the arena last year and we expect this number to increase for 2019.”
He stresses the importance of the Ploughing Championships to Enterprise Ireland and the agritech sector. “This is a really, really important event on our calendar. It’s a great opportunity for Irish firms to showcase innovation to potential buyers from Ireland and overseas. The Innovation Arena caters for companies of all sizes – from start-ups through established firms to large enterprises. Quite a few of the companies will be supported by Local Enterprise Offices, which will also have a presence at the show. All companies in the Innovation Arena will be showing innovative solutions that can be of benefit to the agri sector.”
In addition, this year’s Innovation Arena will feature a conference centre which will offer targeted briefings on the agritech sector in Ireland, featuring seminars on key issues affecting the industry including Brexit and global market trends. “This will facilitate important networking opportunities for those attending,” Christal adds.
The closing date for applications for this year’s Innovation Arena is May 31st. eventsforce.net/enterpriseireland/2622/home