USA is a new frontier for Irish agritech companies

Ryan J. Shaughnessy, SVP Industrial Technology based in Enterprise Ireland’s Chicago office, outlines why the North American market should be firmly on the horizons of Irish agritech companies.

Disruptive digital technologies are opening up a new frontier of possibilities for Irish companies in the North American agricultural market, particularly across the Midwestern states.

The scale of the opportunity for Irish agritech companies is as vast as the landscape. Of the top ten US states with the highest number of farms, six are located in the Midwest. A 2015 report indicates that South Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska and Wisconsin are together home to more than 16 million cattle, compared to 6.3 million in Ireland.

The Midwest is also home to John Deere, the global agricultural machinery giant with a US $44.5 billion market cap.

In 2018, Enterprise Ireland opened a Chicago office to assist companies to target opportunities in the US Midwest.


Irish agritech companies are using innovation to solve global challenges

Two major global trends are directing traditional farming practices towards new frontiers in the digital age and proving a good match for Irish agritech companies.

With the world population expected to exceed 9.6 billion by 2050, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that food production must increase by 70% over that period. At the same time, farmers are under pressure to optimise efficiency, reduce costs and maximise profitability. How can farmers cut costs while meeting rising demand?

Digitisation is one solution that Irish agritech companies are increasingly pursuing. Technologies based on intelligent machine control, telematics, big data and farm management software are helping farmers to achieve these goals. With the US unemployment rate at 3.9%, automation is also helping to address low labour availability and improve farm efficiencies.

Irish agritech companies have a number of advantages that are helping US farmers to solve their most pressing problems. Ireland’s rich agricultural history continues, while it has also emerged as a global hub for digital technologies. Dublin is home to EMEA headquarters for Twitter, LinkedIn, Google and Facebook, while HP, Intel, Dell and Microsoft also have locations in Ireland.

Irish agritech companies should consider their strategy for the US agricultural market. If your product is in the area of hydraulic componentry, you might believe it is best suited to direct sales to a large Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM). But you should also consider that your route-to-market could be retail distribution or direct sales to end users in the market.

Enterprise Ireland can help you to plan and execute a strategy for the US Midwest. Supports like our Market Discovery Fund can help you to define and answer questions like, what percentage of the US market can you serve? Advisors in our Chicago office can also help to make introductions to prospective partners and buyers in the Midwest.

Several Irish companies have made impressive progress in the US agricultural market. Moocall provides wearable sensors to the bovine industry to solve issues relating to calving and heat detection. Moocall’s go-to-market strategy focuses primarily on distribution, coupled with new technology and image marketing strategies.

Dairymaster, with a US location in Cincinnati’s Ohio, develops products including milking equipment, feeding systems, automatic scrapers, and MooMonitor animal health and fertility monitoring systems. Dairymaster’s technically-informed sales force sells directly to farmers and through a network of dealers, offering unique solutions to increase milk production and optimise the operation of dairy farms.

MagGrow has enjoyed success in California and the Southeastern US, offering a spraying technology that helps farmers grow more by using less. The system, which spent three years in development, gives better coverage than conventional crop spraying systems and reduces spray drift by up to 70%, benefitting both farmers and the environment. The company’s strategy is to sell via dealers who resell to growers.

These innovative solutions show that the horizon looks bright for Irish agritech companies focused on agriculture’s new frontiers. Enterprise Ireland’s #IrishAdvantage export promotion campaign will help ensure that Irish capabilities remain firmly in the sights of international customers, as we continue to support exporters in the sector.

This article was originally published in the Sunday Independent.

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