Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar has officially opened the Enterprise Ireland Innovation Arena Awards 2021, in partnership with the National Ploughing Association (NPA). 

Innovators and entrepreneurs in the agriculture sector are invited to enter their pioneering agri-related products and services for consideration to the annual awards competition which will continue online for a second year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Robot for gathering data from chickens

Last year’s competition attracted more than 60 entries with the overall award going to Malone Farm Machinery in Co Mayo. The company’s winning entry was a 16-bale trailer called ‘The Malone Express’.

L-R: Mike Malone, Malone Farm Machinery; James Maloney, Enterprise Ireland and Jarlath Malone, Malone Farm Machinery, Overall Award winner at the Innovation Arena Awards 2020

The best overall startup award went to Iamus Technologies, an AI and robotics company based in NovaUCD Dublin. Its winning entry was ‘Gallus’, an autonomous robot for gathering data from chickens designed for the poultry industry.

The 12 award categories include best agri-technology startup, best agri-engineering established company, young innovator of the year, farm safety and sustainable agriculture. The best start-up and overall winner of the Innovation Arena Awards will be eligible to win up to €5,000 each.

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar said: “This is a great opportunity for any Irish company with a bright idea in the agriculture or food production space. New technology and innovation is shaping modern farming for the next generation making it more productive, safer and more sustainable.”

Mark Christal, manager, regions and entrepreneurship, Enterprise Ireland said: “Despite the many challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the quality of the entries to last year’s virtual Innovation Arena Awards showed that innovative and entrepreneurial activity is unabated in towns and villages all over Ireland.

Sustainability in farming practices

“Every year, the awards showcase Ireland’s valuable contribution to farming and technology on a global level. Our world-leading education and research through an established network of universities and research centres allows us to prioritise the development of agri-innovations to address climate change and sustainability in farming practices.

"Irish companies are playing their part in enhancing agricultural efficiency while helping to protect the environment for years to come – we look forward to seeing some of that work highlighted in this year’s online Innovation Arena Awards.”

NPA managing director Anna May McHugh said: “Innovation has been at the heart of the National Ploughing Championships since its inception 90 years ago in 1931, predominately as it has evolved and grown over the years.

"Throughout the past year due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, innovation in business has never been more important and thoroughly vital, as companies have had to adapt quickly to an ever-changing and unknown economic climate and marketplace.

"As a result this year’s Innovation Arena awards are particularly significant, with such a great prize fund on offer I would strongly encourage Irish agriculture companies to enter, as previous winners have gone on to have major success in business both in Ireland and internationally.”

Innovators from the following industry sectors are encouraged to enter: dairy and dry-stock farming, horticulture, information and communication technology, cloud and mobile based software, animal health and genetics, water and waste management, environment and cleantech, animal and farm management, farm safety and leading research.

To enter this year’s Innovation Arena Awards please click below:


Closing date for entries is Wednesday, June 30, 2021.