A new €7 million food and agriculture innovation and entrepreneurship training programme has been officially launched today (Thursday, March 7) by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

The Food and Agriculture Sustainable Technology Innovation Programme (FAST-IP) has been designed to “increase innovation knowledge” in the food and agriculture sector and kick start creation of more high potential start-ups and jobs in the sector.

The programme will be delievered by University College Dublin (UCD) in partnership with Teagasc and will be based at the AgTechUCD Innovation Centre at UCD Lyons Farm in Co. Kildare.

Minister Simon Coveney said today that the programme, launched under the Enterprise Ireland Innovators’ Initiative, could be a new key driver in the food and agriculture sector.

The minister said: “Ireland’s sustainable food and agtech industry is already a success and nationally important, contributing an estimated €8 billion to the economy and employing over 160,000 people.

“This programme will further enhance innovation in the sector by providing participants with the necessary skills to evaluate, select and validate ideas for new products and services.

“Over the lifespan of the programme, FAST-IP is expected to contribute to the creation of new sustainable food and agtech SMEs and high potential start-ups, with the potential to create hundreds of new jobs in the process”.


The new FAST-IP will have five intakes of 15 participants and will begin this September 2024 and run until the end of 2029.

Participants will receive tax-free financial support totaling €38,000 over the course of the programme.

It will be a 12-month in-person programme, mainly aimed at “mid-career professionals” and is accredited by UCD at Level 9 on the National Qualifications Framework.

Participants who complete the programme will be awarded a graduate diploma in agricultural innovation and entrepreneurship.

According to Gary Ryan, director, AgTechUCD Innovation Centre, the key aim behind the new programme “is the creation of a pipeline of commercialisation fund applications” and an increase in the number of high potential start-ups in the food and agtech sectors.

Meanwhile Dr Siobhán Jordan, head of technology transfer and commercialisation withTeagasc, said participants in the programme will get the opportunity to “evaluate, select and validate compelling ideas for new products, processes and services” to address current challenges faced by the global agri-food sector.