Tuesday, 17th July 2018
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Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) is to play a central role in the digital transformation of the agri-food sector in Europe.

EU Commissioner for Agriculture & Rural Development Phil Hogan launched (subject to grant agreement) the first of nine regional clusters which will act as a one-stop-shop for two million farmers across the EU and the agri-food industry to access agri tech research and supports.

The €20m SmartAgriHubs project aims to build a pan-European network of Digital Innovation Hubs (DIHs) and Centres of Competence in all 28 European Member States co-ordinated through nine regional clusters. The SmartAgriHubs project is a new way for farmers, advisors and agtech SMES to engage with research centres and research-active higher education institutions. As part of the project 80 new solutions will be introduced into the market. €6m has been set aside for open calls during the lifetime of the project.

As the co-ordinator for the UK and Ireland regional cluster WIT, which has developed smart agri expertise through its Telecommunications Software & Systems Group (TSSG) research centre, will be the central point of contact for farmers, advisors, ag tech and agri-food companies who want to avail of technology solutions from across Europe to farming and business problems.

EU Commissioner for Agriculture & Rural Development Phil Hogan, Dr George Beers, Project Coordinator, Wagingen University & Research; President of WIT, Prof Willie Donnelly; Director of Research, Teagasc, Prof Frank O'Mara and Deputy Director General of Science Foundation Ireland, Dr Ciarán Seoighe.

WIT President, Prof Willie Donnelly, founder of TSSG and a long time champion of smart agriculture welcomed the announcement. "The designation of WIT as a regional cluster lead is significant for Ireland. It puts us at the centre of agtech in Europe. WIT has been at the forefront of smart agri through our research centre TSSG. We are honoured to bring our twenty years expertise into becoming a one stop shop which will put agricultural technology into the hands of farmers, SMEs and agri-food organisations. We look forward to working in consultation with them on tech solutions available both locally and across the EU." EU Commissioner for Agriculture & Rural Development Phil Hogan said: "The European Commission has recognised that we need to ramp up our efforts in relation to agri-innovation if we want to maintain our competitive advantage in this century. Agriculture needs to become smarter, leaner and cleaner, while maintaining our trademark EU commitment to high quality and safety standards. Projects such as SmartAgriHubs will lead the way, and I commend WIT."

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