NUI Galway has announced that applications are now open for 20 places on a new Masters in AgInnovation (Agricultural Innovation & Entrepreneurship) course. The one-year distance education entrepreneurship development programme aims to fill the gap in entrepreneurship/intrapreneurship skills for people working in the agricultural technology sector and agricultural ecosystem in Ireland.
The new course is targeted towards employees working in key ecosystem stakeholder companies including micro, small, medium and large agricultural technology and agri-food companies, and farmers. The primary aspects of the programme include agricultural needs finding, design thinking for the agricultural sector and disciplined entrepreneurship skills development.
Particular consideration is given to helping course participants address:
- Challenges around commercialising innovations (ideas and technologies).
- Business constraints and guidelines (margins, compound annual growth rate, lifetime value and cost of customer acquisition).
- Other difficulties related to getting new agricultural products to sizeable markets.
The one-year programme is delivered through a distance education model which provides the learner with flexibility in choosing when and where they wish to study, and allowing them to continue to engage in their day-to-day activities within the agricultural domain. For industry employees, 10% of the fees will be paid by their employer.
Dr Paul Flynn, Lecturer and TechInnovate Programme Manager at NUI Galway, says: “The aim of this course is to teach people how to identify areas for innovation specifically within the agricultural domain, and to create innovation-driven enterprises or new business units within an existing company. This Masters in AgInnovation aims to support the emerging agricultural startup innovation pipeline in the years ahead.”
The arrival of US agricultural-focused venture capital firms in Ireland is recognition of the potential for innovation in the agricultural technology domain. Ireland’s Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) has committed €20 million to an investment fund managed by Californian venture capital firm Finistere Ventures, targeted at making Ireland the ‘Agtech Island’. Missouri-based venture capital firm The Yield Lab opened one of the first Irish-based agtech accelerators in Galway in 2017, further recognising the requirement for a structured approach to scaling innovation-driven responses to validated agricultural needs.
According to Dr John Breslin, Senior Lecturer and TechInnovate Programme Director at NUI Galway: “This is a timely initiative because there needs to be more agricultural technology innovators in companies and startups who can avail of the early-stage supports, and then scale up to avail of the bigger funds. 2018 is the year to accelerate the agricultural innovation ecosystem in Ireland.”
The AgInnovation course is supported by Springboard+ and funding that was recently announced by John Halligan TD, Minister of State at the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and the Department of Education and Skills.
To apply, please go to http://springboardcourses.ie/details/6275