WIT to ‘transform digital agri-food sector’; but how?

Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) has been announced as the Ireland/UK coordinator for a €20 million EU-wide SmartAgriHubs project.

It was launched today (Monday, July 9) by the EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan.

According to WIT, this is the first of nine regional clusters which will act as a one-stop-shop for two million farmers across the EU and allow the agri-food industry to access ‘agri-tech’ research and supports.

A spokesperson from the institute said that WIT will be coordinator for the UK and Ireland cluster, and be the central point of contact for farmers, advisors, ‘ag-tech’ and agri-food companies who want to “avail of technology solutions from across Europe to solve farming and business problems”.

The €20 million SmartAgriHubs project aims to build a pan-European network of Digital Innovation Hubs (DIHs) and Centres of Competence in all 28 European member states coordinated through nine regional clusters.

Speaking at a launch event were:
  • EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan;
  • Dr. George Beers, project coordinator, Wagingen University and Research;
  • President of WIT, Prof. Willie Donnelly;
  • Director of research, Teagasc, Prof. Frank O’Mara;
  • Deputy director general of Science Foundation Ireland, Dr. Ciaran Seoighe.

EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan said: “The European Commission has recognised that we need to ramp up our efforts in relation to agri-innovation, if we want to maintain our competitive advantage in this century.

Agriculture needs to become smarter and cleaner while maintaining our high quality and safety standards. Projects such as SmartAgriHubs will lead the way.

According to Prof. Frank O’Mara, director of research at Teagasc, agri-tech has an “important role to play in realising the opportunities while overcoming the challenges”.

WIT has said that Teagasc will play a central role in SmartAgriHubs and that it will lead flagship innovation experiments in the projects that demonstrate how technology can be used effectively in farming.