A €4.8 million education, entrepreneurship and research facility was formally launched at UCD Lyons Farm by Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Simon Coveney TD, on the 25th of October.

The AgTechUCD Innovation Centre and the UCD Bimeda Herd Health Hub are the latest additions to UCD Lyons Farm, a fully operational research and teaching farm in Co. Kildare. The farm comprises 250 hectares of land, with beef, crop, dairy, equine, and sheep facilities along with environmental research, teaching and commercial facilities.

Minister Simon Coveney TD opened a new €4.8 million state-of-the-art facility. Photo Paul Sherwood
Minister Simon Coveney TD opened a new €4.8 million state-of-the-art facility. Photo Paul Sherwood

The AgTechUCD centre is the first and only centre of its kind in Ireland. As the only on-farm workspace hub, its primary focus will be to “promote and accelerate early-stage start-ups and SMEs [Small and Medium-sized Enterprises] with disruptive innovations in the agri, AgTech, agrifood and veterinary sectors”.

The centre will provide clients with on-farm experimental facilities that will permit testing and trialling of new products and services within real-world conditions at UCD Lyons Farm.

The Bimeda Herd Health Hub has been established to create a national dairy facility for education, research and consultancy on herd-related matters.

It will also provide training for undergraduate and postgraduate students in the UCD School of Veterinary Medicine. The founding of the hub will also aid in the delivery of a new distance-learning graduate programme – the Graduate Certificate in Dairy Herd Health.

The Minister at the opening of the research facilities thanked all partners involved in the project, and said he shared their “vision of a thriving Irish AgTech sector providing global solutions, driven by Irish-based innovation and talent”.

“UCD shares my vision of a thriving Irish agtech sector providing global solutions driven by Irish-based innovation and talent.”

Minister Simon Coveney

Mr Coveney said that they will be a guiding force in the development and maintenance of Ireland’s global reputation with regard to agriculture. Minister Coveney said that the government has a continued commitment to supporting a “vital rural economy”. The Minister said he is proud of the government’s investment of an approximate €3.5 million in funding towards the AgTechUCD Innovation Centre via the Regional Enterprise Development Fund.

The Minister said he hopes for the future economic benefit of these facilities and said the government further anticipates “working with UCD and other partners to ensure that the tremendous potential of both facilities pays dividends for Ireland and our rural communities”.

Professor Helen Roche, interim UCD Vice-President for Research, Innovation and Impact, said, “I would like to thank Minister Coveney for officially opening our exciting new AgTechUCD Innovation Centre and UCD Bimeda Herd Health Hub at UCD Lyons Farm.

“One of UCD’s distinctive advantages, on the national and international stage, is UCD Lyons Farm, our research and teaching farm which currently supports over €40 million of ongoing research activities and over 2,000 undergraduate and 40 postgraduate students.”

Amy Weir – Reporter