The Innovation Arena will innovate again, to deliver an online ‘11th Innovation Arena’ in a safe and efficient manner in these challenging times. Last year, more than 60 online applications were received from all parts of Ireland, from a diverse range of entrepreneurs and companies.

After shortlisting, 30 innovators went on to pitch their groundbreaking designs to a virtual judging panel with Malone Farm Machinery taking the overall award for the Bale Express.

The online awards were covered across multiple media channels including digital and social media, successfully reaching a global network.

Project manager for the event James Maloney, commented that: “Although 2020 has not afforded us the opportunity to physically examine the innovations, the online competition has really worked well for all involved.”

Shortlisted applicants were invited to attend a short webinar to prepare them for the interview with the remote judging panel. Winners of this year’s awards will be automatically eligible to exhibit in the ‘2022 Winners Enclosure Section’ at the Innovation Arena in 2022.

“Throughout the 11 years of the competition, the evolution of technology is clear with the integration of AI technology and smart machines along with traditional manufacturing. In recent years, we are seeing a move towards alternative agriculture, with substitute proteins and renewable energies coming to the fore,” James said.

“A particular area of interest for 2021 is innovation for a green future in agriculture, especially in the areas of lowering carbon emissions, improving efficiencies and creating sustainable agriculture for the future, and there are many exciting ideas emerging in this area.

“A great example is last year’s winner of the Sustainable Agriculture Award, Hexafly, a company that produces protein for animals from black soldier flies.”

The competition delivers recognition of innovative and entrepreneurial activity that is driving forward in this country despite COVID-19. Many Enterprise Ireland companies have adjusted to deliver success, whether it has been developing important personal protective equipment (PPE), or ensuring that vital food and industry services remain open. This resilience is particularly evident in the agri community.

L-R: Alvan Hunt of Hexafly, winner of the Sustainable Agriculture Award at the Innovation Arena Awards 2020; Mark Christal of Enterprise Ireland; Minister for State Damien English; and Anna May McHugh of the National Ploughing Association.

“On an annual basis, Enterprise Ireland is working with around 5,000 companies through a network of market and sector advisers based across 10 national offices and 40 international offices. This illustrates why we can help take an innovative company and create the opportunities for them to deliver global success,” James said.

Agri tech is quite a wide portfolio for us in Enterprise Ireland. In the past, the core has been the engineering sector that is now worth over half a billion euros in exports.

Companies place high priority on innovation and Ireland has some world leading education and research through an established network of Universities and Research Centres.

Ireland, for its population size, is making a valuable contribution to farming and technology in every continent. This can be seen with some of the early-stage companies that are leading on innovation, like Magrow, Moocall, ApisProtect, Microgen and this year’s Innovation Arena Best Start-Up winners IAMUS who have the potential to increase efficiency in the poultry sector.

Entry details

The Innovation Arena has a prize fund of €10,000. The best start-up and the overall winner will be eligible for a €5,000 prize each.

The application is a straightforward process. It involves completing a 250-word description of your company, and the specialisation that your innovation solves. These entries are then shortlisted to move on to the second stage, with an in-depth look at the innovation and an online pitch to the judges.

Companies with a working prototype or finished product can enter under any of the categories.

There are 12 awards in total. More importantly, however, the awards offer a platform for companies to showcase their solutions to a global audience, which could include potential customers and investors.

Closing date for entries is Wednesday 30 June 2021. More details on the application process can be found at

Innovations that attracted attention in 2020

Malone Farm Machinery

Malone Farm Machinery founded in 1999, is another success story in manufacturing from Mayo. It had originally begun with the manufacturing of post drivers, toppers and log splitters. But has expanded and innovated in grassland management machinery of mowers, tedders, rakes and self-loading wagons. It now exports machinery to Europe, North America, New Zealand, South Africa and Chilli. They have recently moved to a new purpose built research and development (R&D) facilities to accommodate the expansion of the company for increased demand in machinery.

Malone Farm Machinery’s Bale Express is a new innovation which can accommodate 16 round bales on a chassis that is shorter than other comparable machines on the market. This makes the implement easier to manoeuvre while accommodating a large quantity of bales.

The implement incorporates two loading arms on each side of the trailer that can load and unload bales onto the trailer. It also incorporates a telescopic mast that can elevate eight bales to a higher elevation that will allow eight more bales to fit underneath.

The trailer also has a side shifting drawbar that makes the trailer align better for loading bales. All controls are easily operated from an electronic joystick controller within the cab of the tractor.

StrongBó Agritech

StrongBó Agritech created BovineHub, which is designed to give complete insight into the beef production process, by analysing liveweight gain, water consumption, feed intake to derive key performance indicators, that can be leveraged by customers and the industry.

The physical BovineHub device collects, analyses and communicates the data to the cloud and the BovineHub service, then analyses and presents this information to customers. Micheal McInerney, who founded the company, says that farms that implement the technologies benefit from, real-time illnesses notifications, live production metrics, the ability to validate dietary advice, and confidence that they are selling livestock at the exact right time. This is critical information that is needed to enable the next level of livestock management and performance. The real power of the system is in the information and learning. Beef experts, nutritionists and research organisations now have accurate information that will enable better on-farm decision-making, improved processes, better diets and more effective policies.

The Third Arm

The Third Arm has been designed to reduce the risk and optimise the process of attaching implements to the three-point linkage of a tractor.

Attaching implements can be a frustrating and time-consuming process. To speed up the process drivers often employ the help of another person to assist them in attaching the implement. This puts the aide at risk as they enter what is known as the “crush zone”.

The Third Arm can eradicate this risk by removing the need for an aide. The invention allows the driver to have full control of the lift arms width from the safety of the cab. Brackets are attached to the lift arms and a remote controlled thumb rocker switch controls the movement.

According to founder of Dickson Agri Solutions, Philip Dickson, the Third Arm was borne out of necessity: “Working on my family farm with my father I noticed, as he became less mobile how he struggled to attach implements to the tractor alone.” Hence, Philip developed the first iteration of the Third Arm, and has now finialised the design for the product to come to market with the help of the Competitive Start Fund from Enterprise Ireland.