From sustainable Black Soldier Fly farming to a Third Arm for farm safety, the most innovative Irish agtech and agri-engineering products at the Enterprise Ireland Innovation Arena Awards were announced by Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail, Damien English TD. 

This year’s overall winner was Michael Malone from Malone Farm Machinery in Co Mayo.

The company’s winning entry is The Malone Express, a 16 bale trailer which can accommodate 16 round bales on a chassis that is shorter than other comparable machines on the market. This makes the implement easier to manoeuvre while accommodating a large quantity of bales.

Groundbreaking designs

For the first time in its 10-year history, the 2020 Enterprise Ireland Innovation Arena Awards in association with the National Ploughing Association (NPA), took place online, with shortlisted innovators pitching their groundbreaking designs to a virtual judging panel over the course of two days.

More than 60 entries were received for this year’s awards competition with the top 30 selected for virtual pitching.

Minister Damien English said: “Enterprise Ireland’s annual Innovation Arena Awards represent the future of Irish agri-tech and highlight new product development as well as the innovative agri-tech and agri-engineering capability in the Irish agriculture sector.

“I am delighted to see such a vast range of innovative concepts and ideas being brought to fruition from entrepreneurs and farm experts from all around the country.

'Innovative contribution to advances in agribusiness'

“Ireland’s innovative contribution to advances in agribusiness is recognised globally and we are leading the way with technology solutions that improve efficiencies through greater automation. This puts us in a great position to take advantage of the significant overseas opportunities for this sector which will help to drive economic growth.”

Mark Christal, divisional manager, regions and entrepreneurship, Enterprise Ireland, said: “This is Enterprise Ireland’s seventh year co-hosting the Innovation Arena Awards and each year we see significant progress in the competition entries.

"Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the quality of this year’s entries are a clear indicator that innovative and entrepreneurial activity will continue to drive our country forward.

“Many Enterprise Ireland companies have adjusted and pivoted recently to help deliver success and particularly in ensuring that vital food and industry services remain open.

"This resilience is particularly evident in the agri community and Enterprise Ireland is committed to supporting the determination and ambition of our agri-sector to succeed both at home and in overseas markets.”

National Ploughing Association managing director Anna May McHugh said: “My congratulations to all of the Innovation Arena Award winners and particularly Malone Farm Machinery as the overall winner.

"This is quite an achievement given the high quality and standard of all the exciting entries for this year’s Awards. Over the years, we have seen the Innovation Arena at the National Ploughing Championships grow and grow as it offers a significant and unique platform for global business opportunities for budding entrepreneurs and innovators in the agri-tech and agri-engineering space.”

The overall and best startup award winners will receive €5,000 each.

There were 12 award category winners

  • Agricultural Engineering Award (Established Company) and Overall Innovation Arena Winner: Micheal Malone, Malone Farm Machinery, Mayo
  • Alfie Cox Best Startup Award: Shane Kiernan, Iamus Technologies Ltd, Dublin
  • Agricultural Engingeering (Start-Up Company) and IFAC Best New Comer Award - Micheal McInerney, StrongBó Agritech, Galway
  • Sustainable Agriculture – Alvan Hunt, Hexafly, Meath
  • Young Innovator: Alanna McCabe (14 yrs), Fence DeFence, Cavan
  • Farm Safety (Established Company): Peter McMahon, Dromone Engineering Ltd, Meath
  • Micro Engineering Award: William Pius McCloat, SUIP Manufacturing Company Ltd, Sligo
  • On Farm Innovation: Peter O'Sullivan, Bullseye Engineering, Wicklow
  • Farm Software Award: Pierce Dargan, Equine MediRecord, Kildare
  • Farm Safety Startup Company: Philip Dickson, Dickson Agri Solutions, Westmeath