News & Events

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

Ireland’s most innovative Agri-Tech Products have been named

Agri-Spread International named overall winner of the Enterprise Ireland Innovation Arena Awards 2018

From maximising crop yields to novel farm safety solutions, the most innovative Irish agri-tech products were named yesterday 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 the 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-Levele-Seed Trinity College, Dublin

Safety Award

Machine Eye (Co. Down)

Global Ambition Award

Mastek Ltd (Co. Cavan)

International AwardSerket 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


For further information:

Conor O’Donovan, Head of Communications, Enterprise Ireland 087-9671342

Brigid Burke, Press & Media Relations, Enterprise Ireland, 087-1803995 

Notes to Editors:

Further details on the award winners 

Overall Winner – Agri-Spread International

“Agri-Spread International introduces “Automatic GPS Section Control” on its precision range of trailed spreaders. The Ballyhaunis, County Mayo based manufacturer has developed a purpose-built precision application technology system called Section Control which is a method of accurately controlling the even distribution and precise application rates of fertiliser. By reducing fertiliser overlap and any gaps in the areas applied, exact amounts of fertiliser can be uniformly applied which results in reduced input costs, increase in yields, and minimises crop damage and environmental impact. Agri-Spread is the first company in Ireland and the UK to design and manufacture GPS section control spreader for fertilizer and lime and bulk products.”

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

“Grazebot introduces Freshgrazing, an automated moving fence system which allocates fresh grass to grazing animals on a continual basis at a rate that ensures the entire sward is consumed before the fence moves again. The cows don’t walk or contaminate the grass they are about to eat and graze on fresh pasture. Freshgrazing provides flexibility and eases grassland management leaving decisions easy to implement, improving grass production and utilisation while leaving a digital footprint for farm to fork traceability, and effective utilisation of mixed species swards promise to promote sustainable agriculture production.”

Agri-Engineering Start-Up – Dairy Geyser

“Dairy Geyser Instant Oil Water Heater is the ultimate answer to providing hot water requirements in the farm dairy. On demand water heating provides solutions for automatic bulk tank cleaning and sterilisation, Milking machine cleaning and sterilisation, feeding calves with milk replacer at desired temperature, and power washing at high temperatures. The real benefit of this system is that up to 30L of water per min will instantly heat from an ambient temperature to 80 degrees Celsius. When used in conjunction with pressure washer the temperature rises to 150 degrees Celsius, making this product ideal for the control of Clostridium and Johne’s disease. It is essential to use high temperature water with chlorine free detergents. The system is easy to install and provides a complete cleaning solution.”

Agri-Engineering Established Company – Agri-Spread International

As above

Agri-Technology Start-Up - FreshGraze

As above

Agri-Technology Established Company – JFC Agri

“JFC Agri has over 30 years of experience manufacturing Calf Feeding equipment. Our range has evolved from the infamous 3-in-1 Multi-Bucket to Calf Teat Feeders and ATV Milk Karts. We take Calf Feeding to the next level with the launch of the JFC Evolution Calf Feeder, a full-automated system capable of feeding up to 140 calves. Following 3 years of research, development and intensive farm trials JFC Agri are delighted to bring this product to market and look forward to launching it with our international trade partners.”

Agri-Environmental – Harp Renewables

“Organic Waste Digester capable of processing organic waste in 24 hours into a stable safe organic fertiliser or biomass fuel - digesters can process between 75kgs and 35 tons of organic waste per day.”

Young Innovator of the Year – Acidose 1“The Acidose 1 is an innovative device that regulates water pH for a poultry house. It’s been designed in accordance with a new acidic dosing method which has been implemented to reduce the need for antibiotics in poultry farming. The reduction of antibiotics in poultry farming has shown to have positive effects on consumer health. The objective of the Acidose 1 is to reduce the antibiotic use in poultry farming significantly while increasing farming efficiency which will benefit both the poultry farmer and the processing company.”

Research Emerging from Third-level – e-Seed Trinity College, Dublin

“e-Seed TCD offers products that use microorganisms as crop seed inoculants. The e-Seed products will enable farmers to reduce synthetic chemical inputs while still maintaining full yield. The product is applied as a thin-film seed dressing to the crop using standard seed dressing equipment prior to distribution to growers. The inoculant is relatively cheap to produce and apply, and does not contaminate the end product. The seed treatment works by enriching the natural beneficial microbiome within the growing crop plants, which improves the nutrient use efficiency of the crop, enabling greater utilisation of available soil and chemical nutrients.”

Safety Award – Machine Eye

“Machine Eye develops intelligent, pre-emptive safety systems for situational awareness around farm machinery and heavy plant. Through the application of innovative technologies, Machine Eye is providing a revolution in safety for agriculture, construction and related industries. Machine Eye provides protection against accidents involving machinery for operators, bystanders and everybody on the farm. Machine Eye has been developed by a group of electrical and electronic engineering students from Queen’s University, Belfast.”

Global Ambition Award

“Mastek has designed a state-of-the-art macerator, specifically for the Irish market. We had serious challenges developing this macerator because of the large variation of contaminated slurry with regards to plastic and long fibre from round bale silage. The Supercut macerator features 6 blades with unique V-shaped cutting teeth, with sheer long fibre, timber and plastic passing through the outlet pipes. Each hose outlet has independent one-way air breathers, which allows air to enter into the outlet chamber of each outlet. It also has a hydraulic oil isolation block, which is a failsafe if the seal fails on the hydraulic motor.”

International Award – Serket Tech“Serket-Tech (Netherlands) is a software tool that helps farmers to monitor and trace their livestock individually and automatically. It uses a readily-available technology also used in other industries to solve the animal health and food safety concerns such as overuse of antibiotics, expensive hardware solutions and high mortality rate.”