21 May 2024

Digital Catapult launches accelerator programme

CAPTION (L-R) Neville Graham, Head of Farmer Services, Dale Farm; Sue McGuire, Senior Strategic Partnership Manager, Digital Catapult; Andrew Muir MLA, DAERA Minister; Fiacre O’Donnell, Sustainability Director, Encirc; Jason Rankin, General Manager, AgriSearch

 Digital Catapult, a UK authority on advanced digital technology, has announced it has launched a cutting-edge accelerator programme with Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) to support the region’s net zero ambition.

The Tenfold NetZero Accelerator Programme will support three of Northern Ireland’s leading agriculture and manufacturing businesses to develop proofs-of-concept that will drive adoption of sustainable innovation across the region, and solve complex industrial challenges.

The solutions set to be developed during the programme aim to reduce glass waste during the production of dark glass bottles and identify novel agricultural innovation methods to enable more accurate measurement and usage of nutrients using advanced digital technologies. The programme is now taking applications from the UK’s world class technology startup and SME community to support the development of these solutions working alongside Northern Ireland-based AgriSearch, Dale Farm and Encirc.

Speaking at the launch of the call for applications at Dale Farm in Belfast, Minister Andrew Muir, said: “I am delighted to be here today alongside local industry. Tenfold NetZero demonstrates how Northern Ireland’s public and private sector can work together to develop solutions that benefit industry, drive innovation, achieve green growth and hopefully create sustainable business models that can be emulated across DAERA’s sectors.”

The Climate Change Act 2022 sets an ambitious target to reduce Northern Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions to Net Zero by 2050 and it is hoped the programme can deliver sustainable climate action solutions and help local business achieve net zero.

Sue McGuire, Senior Strategic Partnerships Manager at Digital Catapult, said: “Our goal is to ensure businesses of all sizes can achieve business growth and improved efficiency in their journey to net zero. The programme is a unique opportunity for industry to partner with the wider UK technology ecosystem and leverage emerging digital technologies through their insights, knowledge and skills.”

Participating technology solution providers will have the opportunity to access the ideal testbed for sustainable agriculture innovation, by working alongside leading Northern Ireland dairy cooperative Dale Farm and AgriSearch, the farmer-led research organisation.

Neville Graham, Head of Farmer Services, Dale Farm said: “As a farmer-owned cooperative we are committed not only to reducing our carbon footprint, but ensuring that the 1,300 farmers who own Dale Farm have resilient, sustainable and profitable farm businesses for years to come. We are delighted to support this project alongside government and industry partners, as we explore how new technologies and digital transformation can help the agri-food sector move towards net zero.”

Jason Rankin, General Manager at AgriSearch, said: “This programme offers our network of farmers the opportunity to gain access to expertise in advanced digital technologies that they would never formally have access to and solve mass challenges across beef, sheep and dairy farming, and help achieve our goals to reduce costs, improve performance, drive innovation and improve welfare for primary producers.”

Encirc, a market leader in glass container design, manufacturing, bottling and logistics solutions, is also providing a rare opportunity for an SME to partner and feed into a global supply chain. Encirc’s Sustainability Director, Fiacre O’Donnell, said: “Our challenge is around quality inspection for dark coloured glass at our Northern Ireland plant and solving this will reduce waste, improve our efficiencies and will help us drive towards our goal of producing zero emission glass.”

The closing date for applications is 12th May 2024. Further information on the challenges, selection criteria and terms and conditions can be found at digicat.org.uk/TenfoldNetZeroOpenCall

 

Company info: Digital Catapault