A new digital innovation hub in Kilkenny can drive the digital transformation of Europe’s agri-food sector.
That’s what European Union Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan predicted yesterday at the launch of the Precision Agriculture Centre of Excellence (PACE) in the city.
It is an initiative of the Telecommunications Software and Systems Group (TSSG) at Waterford Institute of Technology.
Mr Hogan said the impressive new hub gives Ireland’s agri-tech companies direct access to best-in-class technologies and research, as well as cascade funding.
He said PACE is an excellent strategic fit for the South-East region where agriculture accounts for 43% of total employment.
Waterford WIT president, Professor Willie Donnelly said PACE is an important next step in the Institute’s research and innovation centre, established in St Kieran College in 2011. TSSG has secured over €100 million in funding over the past five years under EU programmes, making it one of the most successful ICT research centres in Ireland. It currently consists of over 80 research scientists and engineers and manages an active international network in excess of 700 partners..
Colette Byrne, chief executive, Kilkenny County Council, a proactive stakeholder from the outset, said the centre will provide a cornerstone for the development of an agri-tech cluster. “By scouting for technologies across the entire third level sector, PACE will provide an opportunity to commercialise those technologies that have potential for deployment in the agricultural sector and grow its presence not just in Kilkenny but across Europe,” she said.