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€4.8m entrepreneurship and research facility opens at UCD Lyons Farm

The focus of the AgTechUCD Innovation Centre, the first and only on-farm workspace hub in Ireland, is to promote and accelerate early-stage start-ups and SMEs with disruptive innovations in the agri, ag-tech, agri-food and veterinary sectors, as they build their innovative businesses into leading enterprises, creating jobs. The centre provides clients with preferred access to on-farm experimental facilities, allowing testing and trialing of products and services in the real-world environment at UCD Lyons Farm.

Facilities in the innovation centre include: flexible lab spaces, meeting rooms, offices and an exhibition and seminar space.

The establishment of the UCD Bimeda Herd Health Hub will provide a national facility for dairy herd health education, research and consultancy and will support the delivery of state-of-the art training to undergraduate and postgraduate students in the UCD School of Veterinary Medicine.

The UCD Bimeda Herd Health Hub has its own teaching room and lab space on the ground floor.

The 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.

Funding for the new facility, which is 1,010m2 in area, approximately, has been provided by Enterprise Ireland, through the Regional Enterprise Development Fund, a philanthropic donation from Bimeda to the university through UCD Foundation, and UCD.

Cutting-edge AG-TECH Formally launching both facilities, Minister Coveney said they will ensure that thousands of graduate and postgraduate students will be able to access cutting-edge research and technology.
“In addition, both facilities will host and nurture the next generation of Irish ag-tech start-ups, ensuring our global reputation in this sector goes from strength-to-strength. This Government is proud to have invested almost €3.5 million funding in the AgTechUCD Innovation Centre through the Regional Enterprise Development Fund.”

A distinctive advantage

Professor Helen Roche, interim UCD vice-president for research, innovation and impact, commented: “One of UCD’s distinctive advantages, on the national and international stage, is UCD Lyons Farm, our research and teaching farm which currently supports over €40m of ongoing research activities and over 2,000 undergraduate and 40 postgraduate students.”

Lyons Farm, UCD’s research and teaching farm, 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 Roche added: “The innovation centre and herd health hub represent a new phase in the university’s commitment to education, research, innovation, entrepreneurship and outreach in agriculture, agrifood and veterinary medicine, strategic areas both in Ireland and globally.

“This new facility will enable researchers, entrepreneurs and educators to co-locate in a single on-farm facility allowing them to collaborate more closely to further enhance Ireland’s capabilities and sustainable impact in agricultural, agri-food and veterinary sciences.”

Fostering talent

Carol Gibbons, manager, regions and local enterprise, Enterprise Ireland, said the innovation centre is a state-of-the-art facility that will foster talent and innovation. “This facility will become a focal point for Irish ag-tech, providing new entrepreneurs with the support, guidance and collaboration they require to bring their ideas to the next level and start ambitious agtech companies. It has been a pleasure to work with UCD and other partners on this project and we are excited about its potential in the years ahead.”

Pictured at the official opening of the AgTechUCD Innovation Centre and the UCD Bimeda Herd Health Hub are: Tom Flanagan, UCD director of enterprise and commercialisation; Donal Tierney, chair, Bimeda Group; Professor Helen Roche, interim UCD vice-president for research, innovation and impact; Simon Coveney, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Dan Tierney, founder, Bimeda Group; and Carol Gibbons, manager, regions and local enterprise, Enterprise Ireland.

Philanthropic donation

Donal Tierney, chairman, Bimeda Group, said: “From innovating the mastitis prevention technology which revolutionised global dairy farming practices, to establishing our own Bimeda Global Innovation Centre in Dublin, Bimeda has always been committed to investing in Irish innovation and supporting the wider agri-tech sector to do the same.
“Ireland has a competitive advantage in the global agri-tech sector and we are proud, through the UCD Bimeda Herd Health Hub and AgTechUCD Innovation Centre, to be playing a role in facilitating further development and innovation within the country.”
AgTechUCD, which is part of NovaUCD and builds upon NovaUCD’s 20-year track record of supporting high-tech start-ups with global potential, also runs an annual accelerator programme dedicated to agtech and agri-food start-ups and SMEs. Nineteen start-ups from across Ireland have completed the two AgTechUCD Agccelerator programmes completed to date and the third programme commenced earlier this month with eight participating start-ups.

AgTechUCD is a collaboration with AIB, Kildare County Council and Kildare LEO; agri-company, Devenish; 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.