A novel seaweed-based crop biostimulant and an app to help horse owners keep track of their stock were among the award winners of the most innovative Irish agritech and agri-engineering products announced recently by Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail, Damien English.
This year’s overall Enterprise Ireland Innovation Arena Awards winner was marine biotech company Brandon Bioscience in Tralee, Co Kerry. In collaboration with the traditional fertiliser manufacturer Target Fertilisers, the company’s winning entry is an innovative new biostimulant product using extracts from common brown seaweed that has the potential to reduce chemical nitrogen input on farms by up to 20 per cent.
The best overall start-up award went to Jennifer and Kevin Corley, founders of EquiTrace which is an app that works with a horse’s microchip to identify, locate and track individual animals as they move while also recording animal temperature and health records when used with a Merck Bio-Thermo chip and scanner.
For the second year in a row, the 2021 Enterprise Ireland Innovation Arena Awards in association with the National Ploughing Association (NPA), took place online, with shortlisted innovators pitching their pioneering designs to a virtual judging panel over the course of two days.
Enterprise Ireland’s Innovation Arena traditionally showcases ground-breaking agri-related products and innovations from Irish agri-companies at the National Ploughing Championships. This year’s competition was once again moved fully online due to the cancellation of the event as a result of the pandemic.
Winners of this year’s awards are automatically eligible to exhibit in the ‘2021 Winners Enclosure Section’ at the Innovation Arena in 2022.
More than 50 entries were received for this year’s Awards competition with 28 selected for virtual pitching. In the Young Innovator of the Year category Carbon Harvesters based in the Nova Centre in UCD were awarded the prize.
Announcing the winners, Minister Damien English said, “The ingenuity and talent of Irish farm experts, entrepreneurs and businesses, is once again captured by this year’s Innovation Arena Award winners.
“In line with Government policy on Climate action, the positive impacts that Irish innovation can have on future global agriculture, particularly in relation to environmental, sustainability and digitalisation solutions, are inspiring. There are significant opportunities for our agricultural sector in overseas markets and the potential to drive economic growth. I would encourage farmers and companies to take advantage of Ireland’s reputation for agri-innovation and to explore opportunities to realise their global ambition in new markets.”
Leo Clancy, CEO, Enterprise Ireland said, “The strong themes emerging from this year’s Innovation Arena Award entries are a focus on farm efficiency and a concentration on how to protect our natural resources. Over the last few years, we’ve seen growing trends towards digitalisation of the sector, with increased capacity for capturing more data, interpreting it and using these insights for decision-making. The uptake of such technologies on the farm will have significant benefits generating efficiency and sustainability in food production.
“Despite a challenging 18 months, we are really encouraged by the quality of the entries and future possibilities for our Innovation Arena Award winners. Enterprise Ireland looks forward to working with them in finding opportunities for their innovative solutions in domestic and global markets.”
National Ploughing Association Managing Director, Anna May McHugh said, “The NPA are delighted to be partnering up again with Enterprise Ireland to run this year’s online Innovation Arena Awards. Innovation has been a key factor of the National Ploughing Championships since its establishment 90 years ago in 1931 as it as it has grown and evolved over the years to become the epic event it now is.
“Agriculture is deeply rooted in Irish culture and is a vital factor in rural Ireland’s economic growth. Over the years the Innovation Arena at Ploughing has seen some of the most cutting-edge technologies & brilliant pioneering ideas and this year is no exception, with previous winners going on to experience tremendous success in business both in Ireland and on the global stage.”
The overall and best start-up Award winners will receive €5,000 each.