DAERA Digital Catapult partnership will aid local businesses’ net zero ambitions – Muir

Date published: 04 April 2024

DAERA Minister Andrew Muir has launched the latest phase in his Department’s partnership with Digital Catapult to assist companies here to achieve their net zero ambitions.

DAERA Digital Catapult partnership will aid local businesses’ net zero ambitions – Muir
Neville Graham, Head of Farmer Services, Dale Farm; Sue McGuire, Senior Strategic Partnership Manager, Digital Catapult; Andrew Muir MLA, DAERA Minister; Fiacre O’Donnell, Sustainability Director, Encirc; and Jason Rankin, General Manager, AgriSearch.

In November 2023, DAERA announced its partnership with Digital Catapult Northern Ireland on a new innovation programme to provide local businesses with the opportunity to access the UK's world class technology community to tackle challenges they face in the drive towards Net Zero.

Following months of engagement with a variety of businesses across Northern Ireland, DAERA and Digital Catapult are pleased to announce that the Tenfold NetZero Accelerator programme will support three of Northern Ireland’s leading agriculture and manufacturing businesses: Dale Farm, AgriSearch and Encirc.

The Department is set to contribute up to £250,000 to support Digital Catapult to deliver the Tenfold Net Zero Accelerator programme in Northern Ireland.

The Tenfold NetZero Accelerator programme will aim to develop innovative methods that will  help improve efficiency on-farm linked to feed management and usage, and easy access to nutrient data; as well as help reduce waste during the production of dark glass bottles. The programme is now taking applications from the UK’s world-class technology startup and SME community to support the development of these solutions working alongside Dale Farm, AgriSearch and Encirc respectively. Each successful technology provider will receive £20,000 in funding from the industry partners. 

Speaking at the launch of the call for applications at Dale Farm in Belfast, Minister Andrew Muir, said: “I am delighted to be here today alongside local industry. Tenfold NetZero demonstrates how Northern Ireland’s public and private sector can work together to develop solutions that benefit industry, drive innovation, achieve green growth and hopefully create sustainable business models that can be emulated across DAERA’s sectors.

“Innovation will play a critical role in addressing the challenges we face today in relation to climate change and sustainability. I look forward not only to hearing how our industry partners fare in their search for solutions through this programme, but also the wider implications, including how the outcomes of the programme will help inform and encourage future initiatives as we work towards achieving Net Zero.”

The Climate Change Act 2022 sets an ambitious target to reduce Northern Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions to Net Zero by 2050 and it is hoped the programme can deliver sustainable climate action solutions and help local business achieve net zero. The programme also aligns with the DAERA Innovation Strategy which aims to support the development of an innovation ecosystem to deliver on the Executive’s Green Growth Agenda.

Sue McGuire, Senior Strategic Partnerships Manager at Digital Catapult, said: “Our goal is to ensure businesses of all sizes can achieve business growth and improved efficiency in their journey to net zero. The programme is a unique opportunity for industry to partner with the wider UK technology ecosystem and leverage emerging digital technologies through their insights, knowledge and skills.”

Neville Graham, Head of Farmer Services, Dale Farm said: “As a farmer-owned cooperative we are committed not only to reducing our carbon footprint, but ensuring that the 1,300 farmers who own Dale Farm have resilient, sustainable and profitable farm businesses for years to come. We are delighted to support this project alongside government and industry partners, as we explore how new technologies and digital transformation can help the agri-food sector move towards net zero.”

Jason Rankin, General Manager at AgriSearch, said: “This programme offers our network of farmers the opportunity to gain access to expertise in advanced digital technologies that they would never formally have access to and solve mass challenges across beef, sheep and dairy farming, and help achieve our goals to reduce costs, improve performance, drive innovation and improve welfare for primary producers.”

Encirc’s Sustainability Director, Fiacre O’Donnell, said: “Our challenge is around quality inspection for dark coloured glass at our Northern Ireland plant and solving this will reduce waste, improve our efficiencies and will help us drive towards our goal of producing zero emission glass.”

The closing date for applications is 12th May 2024. Further information on the challenges, selection criteria and terms and conditions can be found at digicat.org.uk/TenfoldNetZeroOpenCall.

Notes to editors: 


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