Agtech features strongly in Enterprise Ireland’s 2019 Student Entrepreneur awards

Agtech features strongly in Enterprise Ireland’s 2019 Student Entrepreneur awards
NUIG student Christopher McBrearty with his parents Ann and Eugene McBrearty, after his NanoDetect early prostate cancer detection technology won Enterprise Ireland’s Student Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

A parasite test kit for cattle, and a better girth for horses, are winners in the 38th year of Enterprise Ireland’s Student Entrepreneur Awards.

When the awards were recently presented at the Cork Institute of Technology, the overall winner was an early prostate cancer detection technology developed by a National University of Ireland Galway student.

NUIG student Christopher McBrearty received a €10,000 award for his NanoDetect prostate cancer detector.

One of the two other finalists who shared the €35,000 prize fund was TU Dublin’s Micron Agritech Limited.

The company was created by students Daniel Izquierdo Hijazi, Sean Smith, Tara McElligott and Jose Lopez Escobar, and they received the Local Enterprise Office ICT award and €5,000.

Daniel Izquierdo, Tara McElligott, Sean Smith and Jose Lopez , the Micron Agritech (TU Dublin) team behind the multi-award winning Tástáil kit which allows farmers to quickly test their animals for parasites.
Daniel Izquierdo, Tara McElligott, Sean Smith and Jose Lopez , the Micron Agritech (TU Dublin) team behind the multi-award winning Tástáil kit which allows farmers to quickly test their animals for parasites.

They have since gone on to win the inaugural Munster Agri-Innovation Award at the Cork Summer Show.

Previously, they had won the Bolton Trust Student Enterprise Competition, and the NIBS Worldwide Business Plan Competition.

Their patent-pending Tástáil kit allows farmers to test their animals for parasites and receive an instant text with results, as opposed to the current three to five-day waiting time.

This can help farmers to significantly reduce veterinary drug usage.

The kit user follows seven simple steps to prepare a faecal sample, introduces the sample into a device, and gets the results on their phone.

Daniel Izquierdo Hijazi said: “Currently, when a farmer tests their animals for parasites, they must send faecal samples to a lab for a vet to test them, which can take from three to five working days.

As a result, many farmers regularly give their livestock antimicrobial medication to prevent infection, even if they don’t need it.

80% of all antimicrobial medication produced globally is used in the agriculture industry, and practices such as these are leading to increased antimicrobial resistance, which could kill 10 million people a year by 2050.”

“Farmers do this to protect the rest of the herd, but with Tástáil, they will know whether their animals are healthy or not immediately, saving them time, and money on veterinary bills and medication.”

The team paid tribute to their lecturers, Dr Colm O’Kane (who was presented with the Enterprise Ireland Academic Award), Keith Colton, and Oliver Herbst, for expert support and guidance to develop the product and business; along with Kieran O’Connell and Ivan Kelly from the TU Dublin Hothouse; and the School of Computer Science in Kevin Street.

The other winning finalist was Ulster University’s Jenny Gregg.

Jenny Gregg, Ulster University.
Jenny Gregg, Ulster University.

Her Crafted Equestrian company’s first product, a patented pressure-relieving girth that prevents girth galls, received a €5,000 prize.

A girth is the piece of equipment that holds the horse’s saddle in place.

Jenny Gregg designed a solution for her own pony, to prevent a common injury called girth galls, caused by friction and sweating around the girth area and behind the horse’s front legs.

Crafted Equestrian’s pressure-relieving girth is designed to prevent galls and the accompanying vet bills.

The winners will also share a €30,000 consultancy fund to help them turn their ideas into a commercial reality. In their 38th year, Enterprise Ireland’s Student Entrepreneur Awards were co-sponsored by Cruickshank Intellectual Property Attorneys, Grant Thornton, and the Local Enterprise Offices.

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