Invent Awards: What agri-sector projects made it to the finals?

A farm safety gadget and a horse training aid have made it through to the finals of a prestigious innovation award in Northern Ireland.

The Invent Awards – which are run by Connect at Catalyst Inc – aim to find the most imaginative local inventions with the greatest commercial potential.

Successful entrants compete against each other for a share of a £33,000 (€37,600) prize fund to help develop their inventions.

The agri-science shortlist originally included:

  • Agri Speed: A hydraulically integrated bale handler which aims to provide a faster, safer and smoother process;
  • Gashound: An alarm system that alerts farmers and operators if gas is present in the area;
  • Bustaseed: Reusable tip-out propagation trays;
  • Crafted Equestrian: a girth which prevents injury to a horse through a unique pressure relieving system.

The four were then whittled down to two, at a semi-final on May 23 at Belfast Waterfront. Gashound and Crafted Equestrian are now set to go head-to-head at the finals which will take place this October.

More than 130 businesses submitted ideas for the Invent Awards this year.

In 2016, the agri-business category was won by DipFast – an enclosed sheep showering unit developed by Oran Oak Engineering. The project focused on safeguarding operators, animal welfare and generating cost savings.

Congratulating this year’s finalists, Sinead Dillon, principal consultant at category sponsor, Fujitsu, said: “We are delighted to see such promising, creative inventions from this year’s entrepreneurs in the agri-science category.

“Each year Invent showcases Northern Ireland’s finest ideas, concepts and solutions that tackle pressing issues across the industry – and this year is no different.

ICT and digital innovation plays a key role when it comes to solution and product development; we are impressed at how technology has been integrated into this year’s ideas.

“Congratulations to the creative agri-entrepreneurs and best of luck going forward. We can’t wait to see how the competition unfolds,” she said.