AgInnovate is an agtech innovation fellowship programme that aims to act as a neutral territory in which academia, the agrifood sector and the tech industry can collaborate to develop novel agtech solutions. The programme is an active partnership between NUI Galway, the agrifood sector, and the tech industry.
Fellowship Programme Overview
The 10-month, full-time, programme combines teams of high-calibre Fellows from either an engineering, business or design graduate background that aims to align unmet agrifood needs with a market opportunity. Team members are chosen to contribute their skills, knowledge and expertise as part of a multidisciplinary Fellowship team. During the process, Fellows focus on one specific agrifood area, receive mentorship from industry, VCs, domain experts, and academics, and are stipend supported. Fellowship teams are physically located at NUI Galway, perform their initial immersion phase with associated agrifood partners, and optionally in related partner organisations across the country. The programme commences in late August each year, and has an associated postgraduate award of a Postgraduate Diploma.
|Fellowship Year||Agrifood Area(s)||Team Location||Chief Mentor|
|2017/2018||Calf Health||NUI Galway||Dr John Breslin|
|2016/2017||Milk Quality / Heat Detection||NUI Galway||Dr John Breslin|
The Fellowship Process
The Fellowship follows the Identify, Invent, Implement Model developed by Stanford Biodesign and used by BioInnovate Ireland. An additional stage, "Iterate", is incorporated into the AgInnovation process.
Identify Unmet Domain Needs
The programme begins with a four-week intensive bootcamp in which the Fellows are introduced to observation and needs finding, meet a network of mentors and experts, receive in-depth training and lectures from the domain experts, and begin team training.
The following eight weeks are spent in domain immersion where the Fellowship teams are immersed in appropriate agrifood environments across Ireland. This process involves observing customers and professionals in a range of domain settings. At this time, these elite multidisciplinary teams observe a variety of professionals and their interactions with customers in a particular environment. This is a unique opportunity for the Fellows to observe and document the day-to-day challenges.
The Fellowship teams now focus on processing the unmet agrifood needs through the AgInnovation process, ultimately brainstorming to develop a range of potential solutions. During the "Invent" period, the Fellowship teams are intensively monitored and advised by a range of experienced and committed academic and entrepreneurial mentors.
Once the domain needs are filtered and potential solutions developed through the concept phase, the teams then consider and agree the Implementation strategy and options which involves prototyping, business and financial planning, legal affairs and go-to-market strategies. The Fellows are encouraged to move concepts forward to business planning with the aim of advancing the most promising concept to be pitch ready and apply for funding opportunities. Upon completion of the 10-month programme, the Fellows are able to address the 'big questions' associated with the commercialisation of a new technology.
Given the nature of agtech solutions and their speed of delivery compared to regulated medical products, the selected product will undergo a process of constant improvement after developing the initial version. After a minimum viable product has been produced, iteration is the process of constantly adding the highest value features that moves it towards a complete product.