National University of Ireland Galway’s (NUIG) Ag Innovation masters programme is now available on Springboard and, depending on your employment circumstances, it is either fully funded or 90% funded.

“The course is part time and blended learning,” says course lead and entrepreneur Brendan Allen. “People who have been working in the agri sector for many years now can use this as an opportunity to learn the innovation process or because it is Springboard funded it is ideal for people who are looking to change career.”

“We get a really diverse mix of students,” he continues. “Everything from people working on farms to people who are maybe in a totally different sector but have a family farm at home that they want to think more about. Also, people in corporate [jobs] – we get a lot of people coming from agri corporations who want to learn more about the sector – and innovation in particular.”

“We also get people from the marine sector because what we teach is sector agnostic, there is a little bit of a relationship with marine and aquaculture,” he explains.

Entry requirements

It is a full 90-credit master’s and applicants should hold an undergraduate degree with first- or second-class honours in any discipline (along with three years of relevant industrial experience), an ordinary or third-class honours undergraduate degree (with five years of relevant industrial experience) or a recognised professional qualification (with five years of relevant industrial experience).

For those wishing to apply for the course who do not meet those requirements, if they have sufficient work experience within a relevant sector they can still apply, and the course administrators can discuss their eligibility through recognition of prior learning (RPL).

Course objectives

This course will help participants increase their skills, share best practices, accelerate innovation maturation and transfer into business.

The three main areas it will deliver skills are:

  • Better comprehension of all business constraints with respect to teaching participants how to create companies specifically in the agri sector.
  • Stimulation of entrepreneurial spirit, foster innovation and improve entrepreneurial skills.
  • Understanding the challenges and gaps behind innovation leading to markets.
  • The course is delivered by practicing entrepreneurs and specialist innovation educators. Although the focus is on agriculture, the key learnings are applicable to most sectors. (Source: Springboard)

    The course is a full-year programme, running until August 2021. The lectures are online and take place one evening a week and students will of course have extra course work to do in their own time.

    Once a month, the class will meet in NUIG. “We meet in class on a Saturday in Galway – we think it will be from November onwards,” Brendan says. “Our October one will be online because the college is only getting on it’s feet, so we’re hoping from November we’ll be back to in class.”

    The skills learned on this course can lead to many different opportunities in the food and agri sector whether participants choose to start their own business, look for promotion from their current role or move to a new organisation.

    “The general themes we see are people go on and create their own company – we get quite a few people doing that,” says Brendan. “Other people could head up an innovation or a research and development (R&D) department in a company because they will have the skills to do that.”

    “A lot of the tools we give would be very useful in nearly every day working life, like design thinking, lean start-up,” he says.

    “We also get a lot of people become advisers – the principles of business creation can be applied to any type of business, we just apply it to the Agri sector,” he adds.

    Course delivery

    Lectures will take place every Thursday evening from 6pm to 8pm and as well as one per month on Saturday from 10am to 4pm. Occasionally evening lectures are changed to other evenings, but advanced notice is always given.

    They will be delivered online via the student portal platform, Blackboard, or on Zoom and the Saturday classes are in person in NUIG.

    The online lectures are interactive so students will be asked to engage. It won’t be just a sit and listen exercise. Engagement not essential if participants are uncomfortable. There will be team discussions on particular topics.

    Closing date is 24 September 2021. For more information on the course and how to sign up search AgInnovation on the Springboard website