M-SParc’s Agri Hack set to transform the sector in Wales

The M-SParc Agri Hack saw 12 teams from across the UK and Ireland pitching artificial intelligence solutions to agricultural challenges, with the winners sharing £135,000 Welsh Government funding to create new businesses in Wales, and drive the agri-tech sector forwards.

There were two winning teams – Wales-based Dewin.Tech and Ireland’s Micron Agritech – with both receiving start-up funding to develop their ideas, and they’ll begin by creating well-paid careers straight away in Wales to help progress their projects.

The hack has provided opportunities in challenging times, with Brexit changing the way Irish and Welsh companies collaborate. Micron Agritech will have links to the UK market, and there is a positive opportunity to create high quality jobs and establish an office here in Wales as a result of the partnership.

Access to world-leading research is also a significant benefit for the winners in helping with their prototype or idea, and M-SParc has helped connect both companies with Bangor University so that students can get involved in the projects.

This gives undergraduate students the opportunity to gain paid work experience, and grow their skills for when they are ready to complete their studies and move into the workplace – developing skills in this way is at the heart of the M-SParc ethos.

In 2020 the UK invested £24m in Agritech projects, cementing its status as a growth sector, with investments expected to reach billions by 2025. M-SParc wants to make sure Wales doesn't miss out on the opportunity to be a part of that.

Welsh Government made the Agri Hack possible by providing funding for the winning teams, and Economy Minister Vaughan Gething said:

“M-SParc was created to inspire innovation and provide a dynamic base for businesses in North West Wales. It’s good to see how initiatives such as Agri Hack are delivering and I’m pleased it benefited from Welsh Government support.

“It’s also positive to see how new links with Ireland are being created with the participation and success of Micron Agritech who will now have a presence in North Wales.”

Following the event, Menai Science Park Managing Director Pryderi ap Rhisiart and member of the Hack’s judging panel said:

“We’ve hosted many Hacks here at M-SParc over the years, and the level of innovation and enthusiasm we’re presented with each time is fantastic.

“The future of agriculture is loaded with challenges and opportunities for innovation and technology, and what we saw in this Agri Hack were a range of solutions pitched to the problems faced that could truly transform agriculture for the better in the very near future.

“We’re proud to be able to play our part in bringing these innovators together for the benefit of Welsh agriculture and finding ways to support them to bring their solutions to life. It’s especially encouraging to see job opportunities being created, and I believe we’ll see a lot of growth in the agri-tech sector in the very near future.”

Geraint Hughes, one of the winners whose Dewin.Tech start-up will utilise Internet of Things applications to provide notifications to clients such as farmers, said:

"The fantastic support we've secured through the Agri Hack will allow us to fast forward the development of commercial applications.

“This is a ferociously fast-moving industry, and I want to see Dewin.Tech becoming one of many Agri Tech businesses in Wales that translates digital innovation to packages that offer tangible value to clients such as farmers, natural resources managers, utility companies and anybody working within the rural space."

Geraint's company Dewin.Tech is partnering with MSparc-based EvoMetric to develop new technology, with both companies creating new employment opportunities as a result of this funding.

Irish Start-up Micron Agritech’s parasite detection system ‘Micron Kit’ is to be partially developed at M-SParc, providing the company with research links at Bangor University, who have already identified researchers who may support the project. Sean Smith, Commercial Director & Co-founder at Micron Agritech said:

“We are excited to collaborate with M-SParc and Bangor University on this project. Our team in Dublin is growing rapidly and this is a welcome opportunity to expand by hiring someone in Wales who will add value to our core team.“

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