EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan has said that a new digital innovation hub in Kilkenny City can drive the digital transformation of Europe's agri-food sector boosting innovation and growth in the region.
The innovation will also burnish Ireland’s global leadership in agricultural technology, according to Mr Hogan.
"This impressive new hub gives Ireland’s agri-tech companies, most of them SMEs and micro-enterprises, direct access to best-in-class technologies and research, as well as cascade funding," he said at the launch of the Precision Agriculture Centre of Excellence (PACE).
“Smart use of knowledge, research and innovation is the main source of productivity growth in the EU agri-food sector. The digitisation of the European economy requires the full integration of digital innovations across all sectors of the economy, including agriculture and food.
“Precision Agriculture has never been more important in an industry facing challenges posed by climate change, ecosystem degradation and world population growth, as well as the growing need to produce more, using less. With facilities like PACE, we are building a network of digital innovation hubs across Europe to accelerate this digital transformation.
“PACE is an excellent strategic fit for the South-East region where agriculture accounts for 43% of total employment. This, coupled with the presence of leading global agri-food companies headquartered in the region and a growing base of agri-tech companies, confirms the pivotal role PACE can play in growing the region’s economy,” Commissioner Hogan said.
Waterford Institute of Technology President Professor Willie Donnelly, commented: “PACE is an initiative of the TSSG at Waterford Institute of Technology and will leverage the Institute’s leadership in agriculture and Information Technology research and innovation. It is an important next step in the Institute’s research and innovation centre which was established in St Kieran College in 2011.
"It will close the gap between research and deployment, with a focus on using existing technologies which are often deployed in other sectors.