By  @SimonCocking Interview with  Aidan Connolly, chief innovation officer, Alltech

Where and when will the Alltech accelerator take place in Ireland?

The successful start-ups will be based in Dublin. We have an agreement that this will be the central location, which will manage the day-to-day functions of The Pearse Lyons Accelerator program. Applications for the Pearse Lyons Accelerator are available now and close Nov. 11, 2016.

What stage of business are you looking for to take part? (idea/start-up/with revenue?)

We are looking for companies that, at minimum, have proven technology, supporting evidence from a test market and are near launch or early launch.

What sort of technologies are you hoping to see in the program?

We are looking for disruptive or transformative technologies that can truly change the way we produce food. Our interest is in agriculture, and this means we are seeking entrepreneurs who have technologies that can be used on farms. These could be in the form of sensors, machine vision, technologies involved with genomics and nutrigenomics, or technologies involved with supplementation for the health of plants and animals. Particularly in year one, we would like to interpret the category as broadly as possible. While we are interested in food, we are looking for technologies that are used on-farm and not in a processing plant.

What trends in food and agribusiness are you excited by?

We are very excited by the current move toward improving the sustainability of food.  We believe that there continues to be huge improvements in efficiencies that could be gained at the farm level. We believe that the development of methods to measure the changes that nutrition brings about at the gene level and monitoring how nutrients influence intestinal health and microflora are hugely important in finding ways to feed a planet that will soon be home to over 9 billion people.

What new technologies can we expect to see coming from Alltech in the near future?

Alltech is very focused on its current core expertise in using probiotics, prebiotics, enzymes and nutritional supplements, particularly to impact crop and animal health. That said, we are also investing heavily in the area of algae with the intent of improving the nutritional value of food (for example, DHA omega-3). For some time now, we have been involved in the development of investments in the life sciences field, where we feel we could potentially address some of the diseases facing mankind, such as Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and cancer.

Do you use drones for precision agriculture (spraying/etc.) and/or for any other aspects of your business?

We have not been involved in working with drones directly; it is of course increasingly of interest to farmers what drones can achieve.  We believe they will be a fundamental part of the way farming takes place in the future.

What interesting ideas have come out of ONE: The Alltech Ideas Conference and/or previous Alltech symposiums?

We have already increasingly seen the close connection between the food business and agriculture. For example, we have seen in the talks presented by McDonald’s and Whole Foods that the future of dairy farming is very important. We have looked at ways of replacing fishmeal in the diets of farmed fish. We have also explored the farm of the future and how modern technology can assist day-to-day farming.

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