National Ploughing innovation arena winners announced
From sustainable Black Soldier Fly farming to a Third Arm for farm safety, the most innovative Irish agri-tech and agri-engineering products were announced today by Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail, Damien English TD.
This year’s overall Enterprise Ireland Innovation Arena Awards winner was Michael Malone from Malone Farm Machinery in Co. Mayo. The company’s winning entry is The Malone Express, a 16 bale trailer which can accommodate 16 round bales on a chassis that is shorter than other comparable machines on the market. This makes the implement easier to manoeuvre while accommodating a large quantity of bales.
The best overall start-up award went to Shane Kiernan from AI and Robotics company Iamus Technologies based in NovaUCD Dublin which is collaborating with a large poultry processor and using its technology to continuously gather data from birds, providing feedback that could save the poultry industry billions of euros annually.
For the first time in its ten-year history, the 2020 Enterprise Ireland Innovation Arena Awards in association with the National Ploughing Association (NPA), took place online, with shortlisted innovators pitching their groundbreaking 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, but this year’s competition was moved fully online due to the cancellation of the event as a result of Covid-19 pandemic restrictions.
Winners of this year’s awards are automatically eligible to exhibit in the ‘2020 Winners Enclosure Section’ at the Innovation Arena in 2021.
More than 60 entries were received for this year’s Awards competition with the top 30 selected for virtual pitching.
Announcing the winners, Minister Damien English said: “Enterprise Ireland’s annual Innovation Arena Awards represent the future of Irish agri-tech and highlight new product development as well as the innovative agri-tech and agri-engineering capability in the Irish agriculture sector.
“I am delighted to see such a vast range of innovative concepts and ideas being brought to fruition from entrepreneurs and farm experts from all around the country.
“Ireland’s innovative contribution to advances in agri-business is recognised globally and we are leading the way with technology solutions that improve efficiencies through greater automation. This puts us in a great position to take advantage of the significant overseas opportunities for this sector which will help to drive economic growth.”
Mark Christal, Divisional Manager, Regions and Entrepreneurship, Enterprise Ireland said: “This is Enterprise Ireland’s seventh year co-hosting the Innovation Arena Awards and each year we see significant progress in the competition entries. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the quality of this year’s entries are a clear indicator that innovative and entrepreneurial activity will continue to drive our country forward.
“Many Enterprise Ireland companies have adjusted and pivoted recently to help deliver success and particularly in ensuring that vital food and industry services remain open. This resilience is particularly evident in the agri community and Enterprise Ireland is committed to supporting the determination and ambition of our agri-sector to succeed both at home and in overseas markets”.
National Ploughing Association Managing Director, Anna May McHugh said: “My congratulations to all of the Innovation Arena Award winners and particularly Malone Farm Machinery as the overall winner. This is quite an achievement given the high quality and standard of all the exciting entries for this year’s Awards. Over the years, we have seen the Innovation Arena at the National Ploughing Championships grow and grow as it offers a significant and unique platform for global business opportunities for budding entrepreneurs and innovators in the agri-tech and agri-engineering space.”
The overall and best start-up Award winners will receive €5,000 each. There were 12 Award category winners including:
Agricultural Engineering Award (Established Company) and Overall Innovation Arena Winner: Micheal Malone, Malone Farm Machinery, Mayo
Alfie Cox Best Start-Up Award: Shane Kiernan, Iamus Technologies Ltd, Dublin
Agricultural Engingeering (Start-Up Company) and IFAC Best New Comer Award - Micheal McInerney, StrongBó Agritech, Galway
Sustainable Agriculture – Alvan Hunt, Hexafly, Meath
Young Innovator: Alanna McCabe (14 yrs), Fence DeFence, Cavan
Farm Safety (Established Company): Peter McMahon, Dromone Engineering Ltd, Meath
Micro Engineering Award: William Pius McCloat, SUIP Manufacturing Company Ltd, Sligo
On Farm Innovation: Peter O'Sullivan, Bullseye Engineering, Wicklow
Farm Software Award: Pierce Dargan, Equine MediRecord, Kildare
Farm Safety Start Up Company: Philip Dickson, Dickson Agri Solutions, Westmeath