The AgTechUCD Innovation Centre has announced MyGug and OptaHaul as the winners of University College Dublin’s (UCD) second annual accelerator programme dedicated to early-stage agtech and agrifood startups with global potential.

The focus of the 12-week intensive AgTechUCD Agccelerator Programme is on fast tracking the business development and leadership skills of participants and to provide them with the support and guidance needed to accelerate their start-ups in Ireland and internationally.

Following a final pitching event, held at UCD Lyons Farm, in front of a judging panel, MyGug was named the AIB and Yield Lab AgTech Startup 2023 and received a €10k prize, and OptaHaul was named the Ornua AgTech One to Watch 2023 and received a €10k prize.

L-R: Fiona Kelleher, co-founder and COO, MyGug and Gary Gallagher, co-founder, OptaHaul.

Support commercial development

Niamh Collins, director, AgTechUCD Innovation Centre, said: "I would like to congratulate MyGug and OptaHaul, both with significant global ambitions, as winners of our second AgTechUCD Agccelerator Programme. The aim of this programme is to support the commercial development of the participating start-ups by helping them to increase their marketplace visibility, to attract new customers and investors and to forge new partnerships.”

MyGug, based in Clonakilty, Co Cork, has developed a micro-scale anaerobic digester that turns food waste into a green renewable energy source, suitable for homes, schools and small food businesses.

The efficient egg-shaped MyGug digester system, which is aesthetically pleasing, converts food waste into a natural gas suitable for cooking and a liquid fertiliser, suitable for use in gardens. The automated system also produces data via an app and dashboard that is valuable to customers for supporting and learning more about the efficacy of sustainability practices.

The company was founded by Kieran Coffey and Fiona Kelleher who completed the programme.

Fiona Kelleher, co-founder and COO, MyGug said: “I am thrilled that MyGug has named the AIB and Yield Lab AgTech Start-up 2023 following the completion of the AgTechUCD Agccelerator Programme.

“Every year a third of food intended for human consumption is lost or wasted. This food waste can be diverted from landfills and harnessed to create renewable energy. Our ambition at MyGug is to empower our customers to become agents of positive change by using our technology to create renewable energy from their food waste, in the form of natural gas suitable for cooking and a liquid fertiliser suitable for use in their gardens, all year round.

“We are currently selling MyGug digesters to customers in Ireland as well as exporting to the UK and to mainland Europe. We are planning to raise €1m in seed funding later this year to expand our manufacturing base in West Cork and to accelerate company growth and sales in Ireland and also internationally.”

MyGug has been supported to date with funding from LEO Cork North and West and Enterprise Ireland.

First route optimisation software solution

OptaHaul, based in Mullingar, Co Westmeath, has developed the first route optimisation software solution designed specifically and exclusively for the dairy milk transportation industry. OptaHaul’s SaaS optimisation platform helps dairy processors, cooperatives and haulers to reduce transport costs, increase efficiency and remove vehicle greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) from farm to plant milk transport.

Gary Gallagher, CEO and co-founder, OptaHaul, who completed the programme, said: “I am delighted that OptaHaul has been named the Ornua AgTech One to Watch 2023 following the completion of the AgTechUCD Agccelerator Programme.

“Milk logistics is both complex and costly, involving the collection of a perishable product from hundreds or thousands of farms and delivering it to multiple factories, which change often, 365 days per year. Until now the industry has been largely neglected by the large technology vendors as it is quite unique compared to traditional delivery logistics.

"Our route optimisation platform is designed specifically for farm to plant milk transport and results in reduced mileage thus removing vehicle GHG emissions, reduced costs and less complexity all while ensuring the long-term sustainability of one of nature’s most precious gifts, dairy cows and the milk they produce.

“To date we have secured customers in central Europe, Ireland and the US and are currently managing some 300,000 unique truck movements per year on the platform. We are currently closing out a seed fundraising round to support our rapid growth in these key markets.”

OptaHaul has been supported to date by LEO Westmeath and has recently achieved Enterprise Ireland High Potential StartUp (HPSU) status.

Partners on the AgTechUCD Agccelerator Programme included; AIB, The Yield Lab Europe, Ornua and Herdwatch who provided financial and mentoring support. Additional mentoring support was provided by the Alltech, Virtual Vet, IFAC, HBAN, AWS Activation, Atlantic Bridge University Fund, SOS Ventures, Spark Crowdfunding, Terra Nutritech, Forcefield Active Technology and Enterprise Ireland.

The other startups who completed the second AgTechUCD Agccelerator programme in addition to MyGug and OptaHaul were; Acregreen, Agricom, Biotec, Dairy Robotics, Farm Fayre, MILJO, RialtoLabs, Silicate and Well Spent Grain.