Major expansion plans in place for local food waste solution business

February 17th, 2023 7:05 AM

By Emma Connolly

At UCD’s Lyons Farm, from left: David Bowles, managing partner, The Yield Lab; Fiona Kelleher, co-founder, MyGug; Niamh Collins, director, AgTechUCD; Liam Phelan, agri-development manager, AIB and Tom Flanagan, director of enterprise and commercialisation, NovaUCD. Right: The MyGug digester comes in three different sizes, mini, midi and maxi, ranging in price from €8,900 to €22,000 (ex Vat). (Main photo: Nick Bradshaw)

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A WEST Cork enterprise that turns food waste into a green renewable energy source, suitable for homes, schools and small food businesses has won a major award. 

MyGug has been announced as a winner of University College Dublin’s (UCD) annual accelerator programme dedicated to early-stage agtech and agri-food start-ups with global potential.

The focus of the 12-week intensive AgTech UCD Agccelerator Programme is on fast tracking the business development and leadership skills of participants and to provide them with the support and guidance needed to accelerate their start-ups in Ireland and internationally.

Following a final pitching event, held at UCD Lyons Farm, in front of a judging panel, MyGug was named the AIB and Yield Lab AgTech Start-up 2023 and received a €10k prize.

Clonakilty based MyGug has developed a micro-scale anaerobic digester that turns food waste into a green renewable energy source, suitable for homes, schools and small food businesses. The efficient egg-shaped MyGug digester system, which is aesthetically pleasing, converts food waste into a natural gas suitable for cooking and a liquid fertiliser, suitable for use in gardens. The automated system also produces data via an app and dashboard that is valuable to customers for supporting and learning more about the efficacy of sustainability practices.

The company was founded by Kieran Coffey and Fiona Kelleher who completed the programme.

Fiona said: ‘Every year a third of food intended for human consumption is lost or wasted. This food waste can be diverted from landfills and harnessed to create renewable energy. Our ambition at MyGug is to empower our customers to become agents of positive change by using our technology to create renewable energy from their food waste, in the form of natural gas suitable for cooking and a liquid fertiliser suitable for use in their gardens, all year round.’ They are currently selling MyGug digesters to customers in Ireland as well as exporting to the UK and to mainland Europe. 

‘We are planning to raise €1m in seed funding later this year to expand our manufacturing base in West Cork and to accelerate company growth and sales in Ireland and also internationally,’ said Fiona. 

The MyGug digester comes in three different sizes, the Mini, Midi and Maxi ranging in price from €8,900 to €22,000 (ex Vat).

Speaking to The Southern Star Fiona explained how the MyGug digester comes in three different sizes, the Mini, Midi and Maxi ranging in price from €8,900 to €22,000 (ex Vat). 

‘Our customers in food business are interested in growing food and significantly reducing their GHG emissions and dependence on fossil fuel solutions for food waste disposal and energy production. They are making an investment in the future of their business as well as environmental health. Payback can be as little as four years if all elements of the system are embraced in the business. Our customers in the educational sector use the system as an educational tool (2nd level and 3rd level) and are embracing anaerobic digestion as a potent renewable energy technology of the future. The food waste that would normally be a burden in schools is now a resource for energy and has motivated schools to look at growing food as an important facet of their educational programme,’ she said. 

MyGug has been supported to date with funding from LEO Cork North and West and Enterprise Ireland.

A second start-up OptaHaul, based in Mullingar, Co Westmeath, was named the Ornua AgTech One to Watch 2023 and received a €10k prize. OptaHaul has developed the first route optimisation software solution designed specifically and exclusively for the dairy milk transportation industry to reduce transport costs, increase resource efficiency and remove greenhouse gas emissions from farm to plant milk transport.

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