Irish agricultural exports to the UK exceeded €44m in 2016 in response to growing demand for cutting-edge agricultural technology.
Enterprise Ireland, the Irish Government agency, aims to boost UK-Irish trade relations and support farmers to produce, sell and export more than ever before. Providing funding and support has allowed client companies to develop innovative solutions from the laboratory through to the farm, including a number of ‘smart farming’ solutions.
With Irish agricultural exports exceeding €44m in 2016, and several Irish companies exporting on a global scale, it is clear collaboration between the UK and Ireland will continue to be key despite current Brexit uncertainty. In particular, Enterprise Ireland expects to see a strong spike in demand for innovative technology, with a number of Irish disruptors gaining momentum in the UK market. Leaders in this space range from MagGrow, a magnetic spraying technology that helps farmers grow more by using less, to HerdWatch, the number one farm management app.
The agricultural sector is changing rapidly and, with stats showing that food production must increase by 70% by 2050 to feed the 9.6bn people predicted to inhabit the planet, increasing the quantity and quality of agricultural production is paramount. One way to achieve this is through making farms more “intelligent” and more connected through ‘precision agriculture’.
Recognising the need to encourage, grow and develop the next generation of Irish agri-business companies and enable them to compete on a global scale, Enterprise Ireland supports innovative agri businesses through a series of initiatives, including:
· The Competitive Feasibililty Fund for Agri-Business – With a total fund size of up to €250,000, this fund aims to support agri-business entrepreneurs grow scalable businesses. Applications for funding are considered on a competitive basis.
· The Competitive Start Fund – Agriculture and Manufacturing - The purpose of the Competitive Start Fund is to accelerate the growth of start-up companies that have the capability to succeed in global markets. The fund is designed to enable those companies reach key commercial and technical milestones. The maximum support available is €50,000 for a 10% ordinary equity stake in the start-up company.
· The National Ploughing Championships Innovation Arena Awards, in conjunction with Enterprise Ireland.
· In addition, there are Research & Development supports for clients in the form of funding. Enterprise Ireland also provides on-the-ground support for attending shows in-market, market experts, pathfinders and lead-generation support.
Sean Long, Senior Market Adviser at Enterprise Ireland, commented: “While unpicking the UK’s relationship with Europe is a huge task and there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the future of UK agriculture, Ireland has historically been a first-point partner in the agricultural sector, and we hope this relationship will continue. The agricultural space is moving even faster into the digital world, and Ireland is perfectly placed to service the next generation of UK farmers.
“Ireland’s agricultural links with the UK are centuries, if not millenia old, and Irish agri companies have a proven track record of servicing UK farmers, developing a reputation for durability, and technical excellence. The agricultural sector is starting to see serious disruption from new technologies developed in Ireland. With the way we farm set to undergo major changes, we’re already seeing the beginnings of a technological revolution which will revolutionise how we farm. There is a huge opportunity for collaboration between the UK and Ireland to capitalise on these new opportunities.”