The North-Atlantic island of Ireland is the second-largest island of the British Isles, the third-largest in Europe, and the twentieth-largest in the world. In This article from YoStartups, we discuss the State of Agritech in Ireland and how Agritech startups can complement
Agriculture sector in Ireland.
Home to more than 6.4 million people, Ireland has been in the news for the major housing crisis that plagued this country. The island of Ireland is mostly plain with several rivers that move inland, surrounded by low-lying mountains. Ireland is home to lush vegetation, which is a product of its mild but changeable climate that does not experience any extremes in temperature.
Forest covers about 12.6% of the country, most of it designated for commercial production. Ireland has a long history of agricultural production, about 1,346,000 ha (3,326,000 acres), or 19.5% of the total area, was devoted to growing crops in 1998. In 1999, agriculture accounted for 8% of Irish employment.
Today, Agriculture is one of Ireland’s biggest indigenous sector, accounting for approximately 10% of exports and 7.7% of employment, contributing €24bn to the Irish economy annually. Combined with the rise of technology companies and start-ups in Ireland, is contributing to Ireland’s success in agri-tech. Ireland’s largest export is food and some of its significant companies, such as Kerry and Glanbia, are food-related. It is interesting to note that the technology sector is responsible for €72bn of Ireland’s exports – 40% of the national total – and four of the top five exporters in Ireland are technology companies. It’s just a matter of combining the two, and you have a perfect combination for Agritech in Ireland to rise and flourish.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), the world’s population is expected to grow by two billion to 9.1 billion people by 2050. If this happens, the organization says, food production will need to increase by 70 percent, and food production in the developing world will need to double. AgriTech in Ireland and AgTech otherwise all over the world is touted to become the game changer and create a better sustainable future.
AgriTech in Ireland
With agriculture being one of the longest-standing industries across Ireland, the future looks bright for the integration of smart technology into agricultural practices. As technology has created smarter and efficient ways of working via disrupting other countless industries, we expect the same to be the case with Agriculture sector in Ireland.
The ground situation is that Irish farming is in the middle of a technological revolution. Educated and Hi-tech farmers are seeking new technology, whether it’s self-driving tractors, self-milking cows, aerial drones to herd sheep, mobile phone apps to alert owners when cows are calving, or software that measures how fast grass is growing. These Irish farmers are proving to be early adopters of technology with a wide variety of gadgets already at their disposal. This helps them save time, costs as well as create a sustainable practice. These educated Irish farmers are the ones leading the revolution and growth of agritech in the country.
Ireland has a historic, export-oriented agri-food industry. It is also home to world-leading research centers at Irish Universities and institutions such as Teagasc. A combination of all these makes AgriTech in Ireland a growing and thriving opportunity. Not just this, there is also an increased inflow of venture funds in the agritech companies of Ireland. These companies are working on different technologies and sectors like drone technology, big data computing, GPS technology with virtual fencing and even wearable smart tech for animals. Meanwhile, dozens of Irish companies are spending millions of euro to create the hardware or software to make farmland more productive and farming more efficient, making AgriTech in Ireland very lucrative.
Startups for AgTech or AgriTech in Ireland
AgriTech in Ireland is on the rise fuelled by the growth of entrepreneurship in general and an increase of entrepreneurs and companies focussing on the agriculture sector. Agritech in Ireland consists of solutions for local problems using intelligent tech solutions. Some of the leading startups of here are:
MooCall – The globally recognized and spoken about product of Ireland is MooCall which is the world’s first wearable device for cows that alerts the farmer when only one hour is left for birthing of the cow, so the farmer can take care of both the calf and cow in case of a difficult birth. It also helps keep a track for health and milk production.
FarmHedge – FarmHedge is a unique weather app that helps farmers plan their work and farming better around the unpredictable Irish weather, using weather prediction.
HerdWatch – Very interestingly, HerdWatch is a cloud-based ‘mobile CRM for cows’, allows farmers to record farm and animal events directly on a smartphone, tablet or PC.
M-Farm – M Farm is a unique online forum where farmers can connect with buyers to obtain information about how to plan, manage and sell their crops.
One Irish company that has had a global impact when it comes to farm technology is Keenan Systems. The company develops feeding machines, which are used by thousands of farmers globally to give their livestock the optimal mix of food. The machines are connected to the cloud allowing for a real-time feed of information to the Keenan control center where it is analyzed.
The Ireland AgTech Fund
Government based The Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) and Finistere Ventures have launched a €20 million Ireland AgTech Fund for agriculture technology entrepreneurs, with a further €20 million earmarked for global agri investment. The launch of the €20 million Ireland AgTech Fund (IAF) was announced by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, in September 2016. Its purpose is to invest in startup and early-stage agritech companies that can impact significantly the Irish agriculture and food sectors. This is really good news for AgriTech in Ireland and affirms the claim that Ireland is preparing to become the AgriTech island of the world.
Way forward for AgriTech in Ireland
The booming activity in the agtech sector has led experts to predict that its growth will outpace today’s hottest technologies within a decade. Insiders suggest the global agtech industry may be about to enjoy the equivalent of a dot.com boom – with Ireland located at the epicenter of it. All of the supporting pieces to build disruptive AgTech businesses are found in Ireland: excellent research institutions, a young, highly skilled talent pool, an energetic diaspora, large Agri-food businesses and adjacent technology industries
Some more good news is the announcement of a collaboration of local giants DairyGold, Glanbia and Irish researchers, one that is worth €446,000. It will employ data analytics and big data to help boost milk production. These collaborations and others factors indicate that Ireland is well on its way to become the world leader, Europe leader already, for AgTech.
COO & Founder, YoStartups
YoStartups is a Pre Accelerator and it empowers entrepreneurs to propel their business ideas into successful ventures. Yostartups’ core mission is to take the message of entrepreneurship to 1 billion people globally by 2020, as on date Yostartups reaches out to over 100 million people globally through its direct and indirect channels.