Agri firms to the fore as Innovation Arena Awards 2020 moves online

IFAC has announced that it is to support the Enterprise Ireland Innovation Arena Awards 2020, in association with the National Ploughing Association (NPA), for the second year in a row.

The awards, including the IFAC Best Newcomer Award 2020, recognise Irish businesses and entrepreneurs that are “leading the way” with their agtech and ag-engineering products for the industry, according to the agricultural professional services firm.

Owing to Covid-19, this year’s awards have moved online with a digital award ceremony taking place on Tuesday, September 15.

The IFAC Best Newcomer Award 2019 went to HerdEye, an agtech startup developing vision systems for livestock health monitoring. Its vision system uses artificial intelligence to monitor cows to determine when a cow is going to calve, if they are experiencing heat stress or lameness, and for body condition scoring.

The closing date for entries for the online Innovation Arena Awards is Friday, July 10, 2020.

Commenting, David Leydon, head of food and agri-business at IFAC, said:

“Many of the businesses represented in the IFAC Best Newcomer 2020 category will be part of the future of the Irish agtech sector, and their products are being developed to help ease some of the pressures on Irish farmers today.

“The winner of this award will receive IFAC’s advisory and accountancy services for 12 months at a critical stage of their development.

This includes business structure and tax advisory, financial planning, as well as support with their business’ growth strategy and funding applications.

Ciaran Feeney, co-founder of Herdeye, said: “We were delighted to win the IFAC Best Newcomer Award at the EI Innovation Arena Awards at last year’s National Ploughing Championship. Working with David and the team at IFAC has been a huge benefit to HerdEye.

“We look forward to continuing to work with IFAC as we grow our HerdEye team and business.”

James Maloney, project manager for Enterprise Ireland, added: “Unfortunately, the buzz of attending the Innovation Arena at the National Ploughing Championship will never be replicated in an online competition.

What it will achieve, however, is recognition of the innovative and entrepreneurial activity that is driving forward this country despite Covid-19.

Many Enterprise Ireland companies have adjusted to deliver success, whether it has been developing important PPE [personal protective equipment], or ensuring that vital food and industry services remain open. This resilience is particularly evident in the agri-community.

“We are delighted that early stage companies like Herdeye are being discovered, and supported by the IFAC Best Newcomer Award again this year.”