University College Dublin to build €4.8M facility to help startups in agri, agtech, agrifood, and veterinary sectors

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University College Dublin (UCD) announced on Monday that it has started a €4.8M development project to build a new “state-of-the-art” facility at UCD Lyons Farm. The facility will house the AgTechUCD Innovation Centre (approximately 890 square metres) and the UCD Bimeda Herd Health Hub (approximately 120 square metres).

The investment was supported by Enterprise Ireland through the Regional Enterprise Development Fund, UCD and a philanthropic donation from Bimeda, a global manufacturer and distributor of veterinary pharmaceuticals and animal health products.

Donal Tierney, Chairman of Bimeda Animal Health, says, “We are delighted to be associated with the UCD Bimeda Herd Health Hub and the contribution it will make to the development of the Agritech sector in Ireland. Bimeda is an Irish-owned company founded 50 years ago. Our association with UCD Lyons Farm in establishing the UCD Bimeda Herd Health Hub recognises the contribution the agricultural sector has made to the success of Bimeda worldwide.”

Construction of the AgTechUCD Innovation Centre and the UCD Bimeda Herd Health Hub is expected to be completed in Q3 2023 and facilities will include flexible lab spaces, meeting rooms, offices, and an exhibition space.

Brief about UCD Lyons Farm

Ireland’s UCD Lyons Farm, the University’s research and teaching farm located in Co. Kildare, is a fully functioning farm comprising 250 hectares of land with dairy, beef, sheep, equine, crop and environmental research, teaching and commercial facilities.

Professor Alex Evans, UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science, says, “It is so exciting to see the development of the AgTechUCD Innovation Centre and the UCD Bimeda Herd Health Hub at UCD Lyons Farm. This represents a new phase in UCD’s commitment to innovation, entrepreneurship and outreach in the areas of agriculture, food and veterinary medicine. This farm-based facility will co-locate educators, researchers, innovators and service providers in a single location allowing them to work together on enhancing Ireland’s capabilities and progress in agricultural and veterinary sciences.”

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Support from AgTechUCD Innovation Centre

The AgTechUCD Innovation Centre will support and help early-stage startups and SMEs that have “disruptive” technologies in the agri, agtech, agrifood, and veterinary industries to grow into successful companies that create employment.

Additionally, AgTechUCD organises an annual accelerator programme for SMEs and startups in the agtech and agri-food industries. 12 startups from Ireland joined the second programme in October.

Niamh Collins, Director at AgTechUCD Innovation Centre, says, “As the only on-farm workspace hub in Ireland focused on promoting and accelerating agri-businesses and startups the AgTechUCD Innovation Centre will assist client companies to access on-farm experimental facilities, enabling them to test and trial products and services in a real-world environment. Clients will also have access to office and lab space, preferred access to UCD food processing facilities, and facilitated introductions to VCs and business angels, mentors and corporate partners.”

How important is UCD Bimeda Herd Health Hub?

The UCD School of Veterinary Medicine considers the creation of the UCD Bimeda Herd Health Hub to be a significant strategic development since it will provide a national centre for dairy herd health teaching, research, and consulting.

Professor Michael Doherty, Dean and Head of UCD School of Veterinary Science, says, “We are delighted that construction of the UCD Bimeda Herd Health Hub has commenced at UCD Lyons Farm. Dairy herd health is an important element of UCD’s One Health initiative which is focused on maximising the health and well-being of people, animals and the environment. We are looking forward to collaborating with Bimeda as an industry partner in research activities focused on furthering our understanding of the health of dairy herds.”

Doherty adds, “In addition, the UCD Bimeda Herd Health Hub will support the delivery of state-of-the art training to undergraduate and postgraduate students in the UCD School of Veterinary Medicine.” 

The development of the UCD Bimeda Herd Health Hub will also support the provision of UCD’s flagship distance-learning graduate programme, the Graduate Certificate in Dairy Herd Health. Through this programme, practising veterinarians have access to the most up-to-date technologies for herd data analysis as well as practical herd evaluation skills. This can be used to create holistic herd-level solutions to guarantee dairy herds are productive and healthy.

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Vishal Singh

Vishal Singh is a News Reporter and Social Media Marketing Lead at Silicon Canals. He covers developments in the European startup ecosystem and oversees the publication's social media presence. Before joining Silicon Canals, Vishal gained experience at the Indian digital media outlet Inc42, contributing to its growth with insightful content. Despite being a college dropout, his passion for writing has driven his career in journalism.

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