Minister Coveney Opens New €4.8 million Education, Entrepreneurship and Research Facility at UCD Lyons Farm

25 October 2023

Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Simon Coveney TD today officially opened a new €4.8 million state-of-the-art facility (ca. 1,010 sq.m.) incorporating the AgTechUCD Innovation Centre and the UCD Bimeda Herd Health Hub at UCD Lyons Farm in Co. Kildare.

UCD Lyons Farm, University College Dublin’s (UCD) research and teaching farm, is a fully functioning farm comprising of 250 hectares of land, with dairy, beef, sheep, equine, crop and environmental research, teaching and commercial facilities.

Funding for the new facility has been provided by Enterprise Ireland, through the Regional Enterprise Development Fund, a philanthropic donation from Bimeda to the University through UCD Foundation, and UCD. Founded in Ireland in 1960, Bimeda is a global manufacturer and distributor of veterinary pharmaceuticals and animal health products, with a decades-long history of investing in Irish agri-tech innovation.

Formally launching the AgTechUCD Innovation Centre and the UCD Bimeda Herd Health Hub today, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Simon Coveney TD said, “I would like to congratulate all partners involved in bringing these two ambitious projects to fruition. UCD shares my vision of a thriving Irish agtech sector providing global solutions driven by Irish-based innovation and talent. The remarkable facilities we are opening today will ensure that thousands of graduate and postgraduate students will be able to access cutting-edge research and technology. 

In addition, both facilities will host and nurture the next generation of Irish agtech start-ups, ensuring our global reputation in this sector goes from strength-to-strength. This Government is committed to supporting our vital rural economy and is proud to have invested almost €3.5 million funding in the AgTechUCD Innovation Centre through the Regional Enterprise Development Fund. We look forward to working with UCD and other partners to ensure that the tremendous potential of both facilities pays dividends for Ireland and our rural communities.”

The focus of the AgTechUCD Innovation Centre, the first and only on-farm workspace hub in Ireland, is to 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. The AgTechUCD Innovation Centre provides clients with preferred access to on-farm experimental facilities, allowing testing and trialing of products and services in the real-world environment at UCD Lyons Farm.

The establishment of the UCD Bimeda Herd Health Hub will provide a national facility for dairy herd health education, research and consultancy and will support the delivery of state-of-the art training to undergraduate and postgraduate students in the UCD School of Veterinary Medicine.

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.

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.

The AgTechUCD Innovation Centre and the UCD Bimeda Herd Health Hub represent a new phase in the University’s commitment to education, research, innovation, entrepreneurship and outreach in agriculture, agrifood and veterinary medicine, strategic areas both in Ireland and globally.

This new facility will enable researchers, entrepreneurs and educators to co-locate in a single on-farm facility allowing them to collaborate more closely to further enhance Ireland’s capabilities and sustainable impact in agricultural, agri-food and veterinary sciences.

I would especially like to thank Enterprise Ireland and Bimeda for their very generous financial support to develop this strategically important facility at UCD Lyons Farm.”

Donal Tierney, Chairman, Bimeda Group said, “From innovating the mastitis prevention technology which revolutionised global dairy farming practices, to establishing our own Bimeda Global Innovation Centre in Dublin, Bimeda has always been committed to investing in Irish innovation and supporting the wider agri-tech sector to do the same. Bimeda’s philanthropic donation to UCD to establish the UCD Bimeda Herd Health Hub and the AgTechUCD Innovation Centre marks the next exciting chapter in our story of driving innovation.

Ireland has a competitive advantage in the global agri-tech sector and we are proud, through the UCD Bimeda Herd Health Hub and AgTechUCD Innovation Centre, to be playing a role in facilitating further development and innovation within the country.”

AgTechUCD, which is part of NovaUCD and builds upon NovaUCD’s 20-year track record of supporting high-tech start-ups with global potential, also runs an annual accelerator programme dedicated to agtech and agri-food start-ups and SMEs. Nineteen start-ups from across Ireland have completed the two AgTechUCD Agccelerator programmes completed to date and the third programme commenced earlier this month with eight (8) participating start-ups. Moonsyst and Pitseal are among the participating start-ups on the programme.

Carol Gibbons, Manager, Regions and Local Enterprise, Enterprise Ireland said, “The AgTechUCD Innovation Centre is a state-of-the-art facility that will foster talent and innovation in the Irish agtech sector. This facility will become a focal point for Irish agtech, providing new entrepreneurs with the support, guidance and collaboration they require to bring their ideas to the next level and start ambitious agtech companies. It has been a pleasure to work with UCD and other partners on this project and we are excited about its potential in the years ahead.”

Facilities in the AgTechUCD Innovation Centre include; flexible lab spaces, meeting rooms, offices and an exhibition and seminar space with the UCD Bimeda Herd Health Hub having its own teaching room and lab space on the ground floor.

 Source: NovaUCD