University College Dublin (UCD) recently announced the commencement of a €4.8 million development project to construct a new state-of-the-art facility incorporating the AgTechUCD Innovation Centre (ca. 890 sq.m.) and the UCD Bimeda Herd Health Hub (ca. 120 sq.m.) at UCD Lyons Farm.
Funding for the facility is being provided by Enterprise Ireland, through the Regional Enterprise Development Fund, UCD and a philanthropic donation from Bimeda, a global manufacturer and distributor of veterinary pharmaceuticals and animal health products.
UCD Lyons Farm, the University’s research and teaching farm, located in Co. Kildare, is a fully functioning farm comprising of 250 hectares of land, with dairy, beef, sheep, equine, crop and environmental research, teaching and commercial facilities.
Professor Alex Evans, UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science said, “It is so exciting to see the development of the AgTechUCD Innovation Centre and the UCD Bimeda Herd Health Hub at UCD Lyons Farm. This represents a new phase in UCD’s commitment to innovation, entrepreneurship and outreach in the areas of agriculture, food and veterinary medicine. This farm-based facility will co-locate educators, researchers, innovators and service providers in a single location allowing them to work together on enhancing Ireland’s capabilities and progress in agricultural and veterinary sciences.”
The AgTechUCD Innovation Centre will promote and accelerate early-stage start-ups and SMEs with disruptive innovations in the agri, agtech, agrifood and veterinary sectors, as they build their innovative businesses into leading enterprises creating jobs. AgTechUCD also runs an annual accelerator programme dedicated to agtech and agri-food start-ups and SMEs. The second programme commenced in October with 12 start-ups from across Ireland participating.
Niamh Collins, Director, AgTechUCD Innovation Centre said, “As the only on-farm workspace hub in Ireland focused on promoting and accelerating agri-businesses and start-ups the AgTechUCD Innovation Centre will assist client companies to access on-farm experimental facilities, enabling them to test and trial products and services in a real-world environment. Clients will also have access to office and lab space, preferred access to UCD food processing facilities, and facilitated introductions to VCs and business angels, mentors and corporate partners.”
The establishment of the UCD Bimeda Herd Health Hub will provide a national facility for dairy herd health education, research and consultancy and is an important strategic development for the UCD School of Veterinary Medicine.
Donal Tierney, Chairman of Bimeda Animal Health said, “We are delighted to be associated with the UCD Bimeda Herd Health Hub and the contribution it will make to the development of the Agritech sector in Ireland. Bimeda is an Irish owned company founded 50 years ago. Our association with UCD Lyons Farm in establishing the UCD Bimeda Herd Health Hub recognises the contribution the agricultural sector has made to the success of Bimeda worldwide.”
Professor Michael Doherty, Dean and Head, UCD School of Veterinary Medicine said, “We are delighted that construction of the UCD Bimeda Herd Health Hub has commenced at UCD Lyons Farm. Dairy herd health is an important element of UCD’s One Health initiative which is focused on maximising the health and well-being of people, animals and the environment. We are looking forward to collaborating with Bimeda as an industry partner in research activities focused on furthering our understanding of the health of dairy herds.”
He added, “In addition The UCD Bimeda Herd Health Hub will support the delivery of state-of-the art training to undergraduate and postgraduate students in the UCD School of Veterinary Medicine.”
The development of the UCD Bimeda Herd Health Hub will also support the provision of UCD’s flagship distance-learning graduate programme, the Graduate Certificate in Dairy Herd Health. This programme equips practising veterinarians with the latest tools for analysis of herd data, as well as practical herd evaluation skills, which they can apply in developing holistic herd-level solutions to ensure healthy and profitable dairy herds.
AgTechUCD, which is part of NovaUCD and builds upon NovaUCD’s 20-year track record of supporting high-tech start-ups with global potential, is a collaboration with AIB, Kildare County Council, and Kildare LEO; agri-company, Devenish, Carbery, and Ornua; investors The Yield Lab Europe, Thrive/SVG Ventures, Finistere and Atlantic Bridge, and leading AgTech researchers and innovators at Teagasc and Wageningen (in the Netherlands) in addition to UCD.
Construction of the AgTechUCD Innovation Centre and the UCD Bimeda Herd Health Hub is expected to be completed in Q3 2023 and facilities will include; flexible lab spaces, meeting rooms, offices and an exhibition space.