Construction begins at new €4.8m UCD AgTech and Dairy Herd Health centre

Construction begins at new €4.8m UCD AgTech and Dairy Herd Health centre

An artist's impression of the new €4.8 million AgTech Innovation Centre and Dairy Herd Health Education and Research Hub

Construction has begun at a new €4.8m facility at University College Dublin which will incorporate the AgTechUCD Innovation Centre and the UCD Bimeda Herd Health Hub at UCD Lyons Farm.

Funding for the facility is being provided 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.

UCD Lyons Farm, the university’s research and teaching farm, located in Co Kildare, comprises of 250 hectares of land, with dairy, beef, sheep, equine, crop and environmental research, teaching and commercial facilities.

AgTechUCD, builds upon NovaUCD’s 20-year track record of supporting high-tech start-ups with global potential, with help from AgTech researchers and innovators at Teagasc and Wageningen (in the Netherlands). The project is a collaboration with AIB, Kildare County Council, and Kildare LEO; Devenish, Carbery, and Ornua; with backing from investors The Yield Lab Europe, Thrive/SVG Ventures, Finistere and Atlantic Bridge.

The new facility is expected to be completed by October 2023, with facilities to include flexible lab spaces, meeting rooms, offices and an exhibition space.

Commenting on the project, Professor Alex Evans, UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science, said the development 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," he said

The AgTechUCD Innovation Centre will promote and accelerate early-stage start-ups and SMEs with disruptive innovations in the agri, agtech, agrifood and veterinary sectors, as they build their innovative businesses into leading enterprises creating jobs. AgTechUCD also runs an annual accelerator programme dedicated to agtech and agri-food start-ups and SMEs. The second programme commenced in October with 12 start-ups from across Ireland participating.

Niamh Collins, Director, AgTechUCD Innovation Centre said: “As the only on-farm workspace hub in Ireland focused on promoting and accelerating agri-businesses and start-ups 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.” 

The establishment of the UCD Bimeda Herd Health Hub will provide a national facility for dairy herd health education, research and consultancy and is an important strategic development for the UCD School of Veterinary Medicine.

Professor Michael Doherty, Dean and Head, UCD School of Veterinary Science, added: “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.”

“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. 

"This programme equips practising veterinarians with the latest tools for analysis of herd data, as well as practical herd evaluation skills, which they can apply in developing holistic herd-level solutions to ensure healthy and profitable dairy herds."

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