LUDGATE brings their second annual AgriTech conference to Skibbereen next Thursday, November 22nd, which will feature world experts from across the sector.
In partnership with AIB and the Carbery Group, the event is part of Ludgate’s outreach programme, and will take place at Skibbereen Community School.
After the huge interest in the bio-economy session at last year’s event, this year’s programme will again look at some key developments in this area.
The day is split into sessions which cover: Technology in Farming – Present and Future Perspectives; Precision Agriculture & the Future of Agrifood; and Bioeconomy – the Potential for Ireland and West Cork.
Enda Buckley, director of sustainability at Carbery and one of the speakers on the day, said bioeconomy was very important, particularly for West Cork and that the conference would be very valuable in terms of awareness and education.
A highlight of the day will be presentations from students of Skibbereen Community School and Mount St Michael in Rosscarbery.
In the run-up to AgriTech, Ludgate and the Lions Club in Skibbereen collaborated to work with transition year students from both schools to specifically examine ‘how technology can help West Cork food producers with the challenges of the marketing and distribution of their produce.’
At a recent hackathon (a short-term gathering during which a group of individuals work collaboratively to solve a problem or create a project), mixed teams of students worked with mentors drawn from the local business and education community to develop ideas in this area.
Mentors included Oliver Farrell, William Kingston, Don Davis, Ciarán Dillane, Tracey Daly and Kevin Buckley.
They pitched their ideas to judges who included Grainne Dwyer, Callum Donnelly, George Whyte, Ciara and Fingal Ferguson, Sean O’Neill and David Kearns. Caroline Murphy of West Cork Eggs also addressed the students on the day.
Four teams were selected from 16 and these will now pitch their ideas at AgriTech, and will receive further mentoring ahead of the conference.
President of Skibbereen Lions Club, Oliver Farrell, emphasised the collaborative nature of the hackathon, which saw business people and teachers give generously of their time as well as local traders who donated resources and spot prizes.
‘We were very impressed by what we saw on the day; students were very energised and responded very well to the process.
‘Ultimately, the idea behind this was to expose students to ideation and business concepts; it would be very interesting if their ideas went on to become commercial entities,’ he said.
The winning team at AgriTech will get €300 with cash prizes for second and third spots.
The winners and runner-up will also get a week of work experience in either Spearline or Carbery.