Fujitsu, the leading Japanese information and communication technology (ICT) company, is set to reward Northern Ireland’s most innovative agri-food invention at next month’s prestigious Northern Ireland Science Park (NISP), INVENT 2015 Awards sponsored by Bank of Ireland UK.
The hotly contested competition aims to find inventions with the greatest commercial potential and Fujtsu has agreed to sponsor the Agri-Food category. Open to inventors, scientists, entrepreneurs and students, the field of competitors has been ‘pruned’ to the final 12 entries, with finalists set to make their last pitch to the judging panel on the 23rd September.
Speaking about the competition and the importance of innovation in the sector, Greg McDaid, client managing director Fujitsu, said: “As the global population grows and the potential for a global food crisis increases, there has never been a more important time for innovation within the Agri-Food sector. Innovation is also recognised as a key mechanism to achieve greater economic growth within the local industry – a point clearly highlighted in NIFDA’s ‘Going for Growth’ report.
“Against this backdrop, Fujitsu has in recent times challenged its own innovation genes to see how best ICT can be utilised within what has previously been seen as a more traditional industry. In recent years the company has delivered a number of exciting projects including introducing ‘Big Data’ systems to conventional farms, using sensors and camera technology to optimise cultivation schedules, as well as combining monitoring and cloud technology to deliver efficiencies in livestock husbandry. We have been most impressed with all the entries in the INVENT competition so far with over 80 ground-breaking ideas presented to the elite judging panel – and are looking forward to finding out which agri-food invention is cream of the crop.”
In the INVENT 2015 agri-food category, finalists include EquiNutritive, which has produced a natural anti-inflammatory supplement for horses which can also be used to optimise their general wellbeing, NextGen Biopesticides is also in the running, with a unique selective breeding approach to developing insect parasitic nematodes which are more effective and safe for the control of crop pest insects.
Entrants are competing for a share of the £33,000 prize fund and for a place on the NI Tech Mission to pitch to investors and partners in California. The inventors will find out their fate at a ceremony in Titanic Belfast on the 8th October, set to be attended by over 600 investors, entrepreneurs, executives, top research scientists, professional services leaders and elected officials.