The AgTechUCD agccelerator is an incredible opportunity to bring together some of Ireland’s top emerging agtech companies. This year’s cohort included eleven companies from artificial intelligence (AI) platforms to micro renewable energy solutions. Although the companies reflected a wide range of applications for technology into the Agri sector, a few themes consistently came to the fore at the finale of the programme.
Establishing viable routes to market is a major challenge. Identifying a target consumer for a new agtech solution is one thing but having the ability to get that solution in the hands of farmers at scale is another. Some of this year’s cohort are looking at ways to leverage existing co-ops or innovative profit share programmes to overcome the challenge.
An increasing application of Software as a Service (SaaS) theory to the sector. Some of the companies on the programme recognised the opportunity that a robust recurring revenue SaaS model can represent. To that end, they are looking to sell the hardware element of their solutions at close to cost price in order to get their product in customer hands more effectively.
Having the ability to build a moat through Intellectual Property (IP) is preferred but not always possible with early stage agtech solutions. While some of the participants are actively looking at into the role that proprietary technology or Design IP can play in protecting their business, others acknowledged the need to use off-the -shelf hardware solutions to reduce costs and improve their funding runways. For these companies, their market opportunity often relied on first-mover advantage or a market niche that existing providers are not prioritising.
Shipping agtech hardware is expensive. As a result a number of the hardware agtech companies were actively looking for international partners who could service customers in other strategic markets, help grow their international sales or even manage the production of their agtech solutions in market. Having a clear understanding of costs and net margins was a key driver in this process.
The full list of this year’s participating agtech companies are below.
Agricom is a planning platform that allows key players across the agri-food supply chain to make more data driven decisions. The company uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to dynamically identify business trends to improve efficiencies and reduce waste in the supply chain. The business has a focus on small-to-medium sized farmers with up to 50 acres with a focus on co-ops to aggregate access. The business aim to create technologies needed for sustainable food production into the future.
Dairy Robotics is working to introduce a new form of artificial intelligence into the dairy industry to help farmers monitor incremental changes in their animals. Current animal health scoring is manual so Dairy Robotics want to leverage their technology to automate the process. Providing access through a dedicated app or API access to integrate into existing farmer apps, farmers will be happy to better manage the health of the animals through this technology.
My Gug is a micro renewable energy solution that addresses the challenge of food waste by converting it into biogas and a liquid digestate. The target audience for this product is small food producers or retailers as well as educational centres like schools and universities. Empowers customers to create their own energy. This system works in all climates and weather conditions so not surprisingly international demand so far has counted for almost 50% of total sales for the business.
Biotec is proprietary data analytics solution that converts large values of raw data intro a traffic light system to enhance the food safety standards in the food sector. The cost of a food safety scandal for a food business can be enormous with costs including product recall costs, loss of sales, fines and reputational damage. The business has a focus on medium and large-scale business who already generate a lot of food safety data analytics but the lack the capacity to fully integrate this data into their processes.
Well Spent Grain
Well Spent Grain gathers brewers spent grain to make tasty and sustainable snacks. The company aims to break the cycle of food waste and instead use a by-product from the brewing sector to create a high in fibre, high in protein, low in sugar on-the-go snack. The company plan to launch the snack into retail in Q2 2023 and will use their upcycled ingredients that are vegan friendly and hand made in Ireland to target the global health snack market.
Farm Fayre is an ecosystem where farmers can connect directly and trade resources. The platform provides safe, secure and verified a network of buyers and sellers who can trade securing using an escrow payment system powered by Trustap. The company offers a field-to-field service looking to service some of the 2.5m cattle’s sales that happen every year in Ireland.
The removal of CO2 from our atmosphere is key action needed to reach our shared climate change objectives. While there are lots of tools available to achieve this CO2 removal including nature based (e.g. plant more trees), biochar, or direct air capture (e.g. taking CO2 out of the atmosphere using expensive new technologies), Silicate are focusing on the use of mineralisation.(e.g. enhanced weathering of concrete and spreading it on farmland) The process adapted by Silicate has the potential to remove c02 from the atmosphere for an exceptionally long time and provides the business a platform to sell carbon credits to companies like Klarna.
MILJO is focused on providing a solution through an app that will help to optimise the diet for dairy herds while also helping to reduce cattle emissions. The start-up has been working with leading universities like TSSG and Queen’s University in Belfast to balance the knowledge deficit for farmers so they can improve their animal health and ask better questions of their farm advisors or animal nutritionists.
Since 2020, Rialto Labs have been looking at ways to take the lab into the field to provide a sustainable alternative to chemical analysis. Chemical analysis traditional based in labs has led to long delays and cost impacts for customers in recent times due to a pandemic build up. Rialto Labs solution is powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) models in portable devices that are cost effective and ease to use on farms. Results can be delivered in real time, reducing analysis delays and the amount of chemicals needed in the process.
Livestock farmers are facing significant challenge of feeding their animal sustainably; especially in markets where feed needs to be imported like the Middle East. AcreGreen aim to do more with less by reducing the animal feed costs through their innovative vertical farming systems. Their solutions aim to increase food security; reduce water scarcity (90% less water used versus traditional farming techniques) and enhance feed quality (i.e. increased freshness). Early trials in their test facility resulted in seed-to-feed outputs in seven days.
Generic off the shelf route logistics struggle to manage route logistics for the dairy supply chain sector and that is where Optahaul steps in. Optahaul is offering the dairy sector a modern digital solution to replace existing solutions like paper and excel-based systems that are no longer fit for purpose. With customers like Danone (USA) and Dairygold, the Optahaul team are building momentum.