Multimillion euro investments for agriculture at UCD

Niall Hurson and Daniel Toal detail the recent multimillion euro investments made in agriculture at UCD.

€3.1 million awarded for School of Agriculture and Food Science research

Niall Hurson

The UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science has recently been awarded in excess of €3.1 million euro in funding from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine across 13 research projects. Professor John O’Doherty, UCD School of Agriculture and Food received the largest award and will lead a project on “nutritional and management strategies to reduce antibiotic resistance on Irish pig farms”. This collaborative project will use a multidisciplinary research approach to develop solutions to prevent and manage multifactorial enteric diseases in pigs as a means of reducing the need for antibiotic use.

The awards come as part of a government investment of €20 million to research and innovation in the agri-food industry. Staff from the School of Agriculture and Food Science will lead eight of the thirty-eight projects awarded and will collaborate on a further seven projects across the three main topics: Environment and Climate Smart Approaches to Agri-Food Systems; Rural Growth, Digitalisation and the Bioeconomy and Food. The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, described innovation as “a key pillar of FoodWise 2025 and this investment is aimed at keeping Irish agriculture to the forefront of innovation delivering on environmental sustainability, competitiveness and the bio-economy”. A total of 17 Irish Research Performing Organisations will benefit from the awards. The investment across all 38 projects will provide higher education opportunities for 90 postgraduate students in the form of 55 PhDs and 35 master’s degrees as well as contract position for postdoctoral and other researchers.

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Island (DAERA NI) are providing up to €1.5 million in funding to Northern Island based institutions such as Queens University Belfast and Ulster University who are participating as either leads or partners on eight of the successful projects. An additional 4 projects are to be co-founded through the EPA covering climate and environment. Minister Creed highlighted “a particularly positive aspect of the Research Awards is the all-island dimension with Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland (DAERA NI) providing additional funding to Northern Ireland based institutions involved in the research projects.”

The UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science has received €53 million in research income in the last 5 years.

€3m granted for ag-tech hub at UCD Lyons Farm

Daniel Toal

Funding of €3 million for an AgTech Connector Innovation Hub has been confirmed for University College Dublin (UCD) Lyons Farm in Co Kildare, in collaboration with the Centre for New Ventures and Entrepreneurs at UCD. NovaUCD was one of 26 successful applicants, representing all regions of the country, who have recently been approved for funding under the third round of the Regional Enterprise Development Fund (REDF). The UCD Lyons Farm is a research estate consisting of 250 hectares of land, with dairy, beef, sheep, equine, and crop enterprises along with environmental research facilities. The successful projects were selected through a rigorous multi-stage evaluation process managed by Enterprise Ireland.

The goal of the AgTech Connector Innovation Hub is to bring together the AgTech ecosystem in Ireland to further accelerate the launch and scaling of AgTech companies by providing them with access to on-farm research collaboration opportunities, a location to test and trial their products and services in a real-world environment; along with access to dedicated acceleration programmes and incubation facilities. Tom Flanagan, UCD Director of Enterprise and Commercialisation, NovaUCD said, “we will now develop a nationwide innovation challenge programme to identify a pipeline of early-stage high-potential AgTech innovations, entrepreneurs and new ventures to accelerate through the new Innovation Hub. The hub will also act as an international showcase destination for business and investors to view the best of innovation in AgTech in Ireland.”  

Dean of Agriculture and Food Science at UCD, Professor Alex Evans said, “this is a very exciting development for UCD Lyons Farm and the many agriculture and food entrepreneurs that we engage with. It builds on UCD’s success in translating knowledge into impact and will greatly stimulate our agriculture, food and environmental science research and education activities.” In total, over €40 million in funding was announced by Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys, in the latest results of the REDF, an open national competitive call to support regional projects that drive sustainable job creation in the regions.

The REDF is an initiative of the Government under Project Ireland 2040 and it aligns with the Future Jobs Ireland framework. The total amount awarded under the Fund to date is almost €100 million.