New Entrepreneurship Programme For Food And Agriculture Start-Ups

By Robert McHugh
New Entrepreneurship Programme For Food And Agriculture Start-Ups

Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Simon Coveney has announced €7 million in funding, over the next six years, to University College Dublin (UCD) to deliver a new food and agriculture innovation and entrepreneurship training programme, in partnership with Teagasc.

The programme forms part of Enterprise Ireland’s Innovators’ Initiative which is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

'Nationally Important'

"Ireland’s sustainable food and ag-tech industry is already a success and nationally important, contributing an estimated €8 billion to the economy and employing over 160,000 people," said Minister Coveney.

"This programme will further enhance innovation in the sector by providing participants with the necessary skills to evaluate, select and validate ideas for new products and services.

"Over the lifespan of the programme, FAST-IP is expected to contribute to the creation of new sustainable food and ag-tech SMEs and high potential start-ups, with the potential to create hundreds of new jobs in the process.”


AgTechUCD Innovation Centre

FAST-IP will be delivered by the UCD School of Biosystems and Food Engineering, in partnership with Teagasc, at the newly opened AgTechUCD Innovation Centre at UCD Lyons Farm in Co. Kildare.

It will have five intakes of 15 participants, beginning in September 2024 and running until the end of 2029.

Mid-Career Professionals

The 12-month in-person programme, aimed at mid-career professionals, is accredited by UCD at Level 9 on the National Qualifications Framework.

Participants who complete the programme will be awarded a Graduate Diploma in Agricultural Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

'Positive Impact'

“Placing high calibre, passionate, mid-career professionals in agricultural immersive environments will facilitate the development of high quality, commercially viable business ideas," said Gary Ryan, director at AgTechUCD Innovation Centre.


"These ideas will have the potential to develop into solutions that will make the industry more sustainable and profitable.

"From the outset programme participants will be encouraged to focus on innovations that have a positive impact on climate change and the environment."

Immersive Experience

FAST-IP provides participants with a tax-free €38,000 stipend over the 12-month duration of the programme.

Through the programme, participants will be shown how to conduct needs-led innovation to develop market validated solutions to unmet needs in the areas of agricultural technology and food sustainability sectors.

The programme’s focus will be on the immersive experience and participants will spend 8-10 weeks immersed in agricultural environments including farms and food processing companies.