2018 Enterprise Ireland Innovation Arena Awards announced

Minister Pat Breen TD announces the winners of the 2018 Enterprise Ireland Innovation Arena Awards at the National Ploughing Championships

From maximising crop yields to novel farm safety solutions, the most innovative Irish agri-tech products were named this evening by Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Pat Breen TD as he presented the 2018 Enterprise Ireland Innovation Arena Awards at an international networking dinner ahead of tomorrow’s National Ploughing Championships. Representing the future of Irish agri-tech, the awards recognise innovative agri-tech and agri-engineering capability and new product development in the agriculture sector.


The overall Enterprise Ireland Innovation Arena Awards winner was Agri-Spread International, a leading Irish agricultural machinery manufacturer involved in the design and manufacture of next generation precision fertiliser and lime spreading equipment. The company has built a strong international reputation with over 90% of production being sold into markets including Australia, Canada and the UK. The latest development integrates GPS tracking with weight sensing and sectional and variable rate control into their machine, with the aim of maximising crop yield with minimal fertiliser or lime inputs.


This year’s Enterprise Ireland Innovation Arena, in conjunction with the National Ploughing Association and the Irish Farmers Journal, is a ‘double-decker’ marquee and features ground-breaking agri-related products and innovations from 60 Irish agri-companies. These include new machinery and software solutions that save time and increase efficiency in the agricultural sector.


The Innovation Arena has become Ireland’s event to showcase agri-tech innovations to a global market. More than 100 buyers from global regions including the Eurozone, China, Australia and North America, will be visiting the Enterprise Ireland Innovation Arena to discover and experience the best of Irish agri-tech capability.


120 applications to exhibit were received with 50 exhibitors selected, all of whom were finalists in the Awards competition. Applications this year also included a number of overseas companies with products new to the Irish market. All successfully completed the ‘Bootcamp Innovation Challenge’ held in August to prepare for the Innovation Arena.


The total prize fund this year is in excess of €80,000 including a top prize worth over €15,000 for the most innovative start-up.


Announcing the winners at the international networking dinner in Athlone, Minister Pat Breen TD said: “Ireland is fast establishing itself as a global agri-tech innovation hub and the Enterprise Ireland Innovation Arena Awards successfully showcase the future of agri-tech and place Irish agri-innovations on a world stage. Exports are vital to the agricultural sector, and farming and agribusiness are the heartbeat of the rural Irish economy, providing employment opportunities for over 250,000 people spread geographically around the country. The government, through Enterprise Ireland, is focused on working with the winners and finalists as they start, innovate and scale their businesses, grow exports internationally and create jobs in Ireland.”


Dr Tom Kelly, Divisional Manager, Innovation and Competitiveness, Enterprise Ireland said: “2018 marks our 5th year co-hosting the Innovation Arena and each year we see remarkable progress in the innovative agri-products and services on display. These advances are reflected in today’s Innovation Arena Awards which showcase the high level of innovation within the Irish agri-tech sector. Ireland’s pioneering agri-tech products and services are recognised globally and we look forward to welcoming over 100 international buyers and investors from all over the world to the Innovation Arena over the next few days. The value and potential of the agri-sector to drive economic growth and international sales is clearly evident and Enterprise Ireland is committed to supporting the global ambition of the sector by creating new business opportunities across the world.”


National Ploughing Association Managing Director, Anna May McHugh said: “I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely congratulate all of the Innovation Arena Award winners as this is a marvellous achievement given the calibre and standard of all the entries and particularly Agri-Spread International as the overall winner. The Innovation Arena at the National Ploughing Championships is an incredible opportunity for anyone who has a good business idea to showcase their product at Europe’s largest outdoor event with the potential to become the next big success story in Irish business. The phenomenal achievements of the previous years’ winners are an utter testament that the entrepreneurial spark is alive and flourishing in Ireland.”


Eoin Lowry, Deputy Editor, Irish Farmers Journal said: “Agriculture is Ireland’s largest indigenous industry and we are delighted to partner with Enterprise Ireland at the National Ploughing Championships in the Innovation Arena again this year to promote and support the companies at the forefront of sector. The Irish Farmers Journal recognises the need for innovation in agriculture where globally, Ireland has a reputation as a leader in this field and the Innovation Arena highlights the change and development occurring within the sector.”


Award Winners:

Overall winner:

Agri-Spread International (Co. Mayo)


Alfred Cox Founder’s Cup Perpetual Trophy, recognising his contribution to the agri-engineering industry, overall winner of the best start-up innovation:

FreshGraze (Co. Westmeath)


Agri-Engineering Start-Up

Dairy Geyser (Co. Kilkenny)


Agri-Engineering Established Company

Agri-Spread International (Co. Mayo)


Agri-Technology Start-Up

FreshGraze (Co. Westmeath)


Agri-Technology Established Company

JFC Agri (Co. Galway)



Harp Renewables (Co. Meath)


Young Innovator of the Year

Acidose 1 (Co. Monaghan)


Research Emerging from Third-Level e-Seed Trinity College, Dublin


Safety Award

Machine Eye (Co. Down)


Global Ambition Award

Mastek Ltd (Co. Cavan)


International Award Serket Tech (Netherlands)


Special Awards will be announced later this week:

• Anna May McHugh Female Leadership in Agriculture Perpetual Trophy – Wednesday 19 September • The People’s Choice Award – voting can be done online – Thursday 20 September