The Enterprise Ireland Innovation Arena Awards 2021, in partnership with the National Ploughing Association (NPA), were officially opened today. 

Innovators and entrepreneurs in the agriculture sector are invited to enter their pioneering agri-related products and services for consideration to the annual awards competition which will continue online for a second year due to Covid-19. 

Last year's competition attracted more than 60 entries with the overall award going to Malone Farm Machinery in Co Mayo. 

The company's winning entry was a 16-bale trailer called 'The Malone Express’. 

The best overall start-up award went to Iamus Technologies, an AI and robotics company based in NovaUCD Dublin. Its winning entry was ‘Gallus’, an autonomous robot for gathering data from chickens designed for the poultry industry. 

The 12 award categories include best agri-technology start-up, best agri-engineering established company, young innovator of the year, farm safety and sustainable agriculture. 

The best start-up and overall winner of the Innovation Arena Awards will be eligible to win up to €5,000 each. 

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar said the awards are a great opportunity for any Irish company with a bright idea in the agriculture or food production space. 

"New technology and innovation is shaping modern farming for the next generation making it more productive, safer and more sustainable", he added.

NPA Managing Director Anna May McHugh said that innovation has been at the heart of the National Ploughing Championships since its inception 90 years ago in 1931, predominately as it has evolved and grown over the years. 

"Throughout the past year due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, innovation in business has never been more important and thoroughly vital, as companies have had to adapt quickly to an ever-changing and unknown economic climate and marketplace," Ms McHugh said. 

"As a result this year's Innovation Arena awards are particularly significant, with such a great prize fund on offer I would strongly encourage Irish agriculture companies to enter, as previous winners have gone on to have major success in business both in Ireland and internationally", she added.