NI farm medicines project secures £30,000 from venture capital fund

Northern Irish scientists have raised £ 30,000 in venture capital to develop a system that will simplify the process of collecting agricultural medicines.

The application, created by researchers from the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) and Ulster University, will also collect valuable industry data.

The system, Seamless antibiotic reporting (titled ‘CLEVER‘short) is designed to collect data on animal and drug use in real time.

The team behind it secured a spot on the DigiSpark program and along with £ 10,000 to do further market research to develop the concept.

In a pitch at the end of the DigiSpark program, the project won the Best Potential Spinout award and secured an additional £ 20,000 from tech start-up investors.

The lead researchers Dr. Steven Morrison and Dr. AFBI’s Aimee Craig recently met with Dr. Patrick Dunlop and Dr. Gennday Lubarsky from the School of Engineering at Ulster University, who brought their wealth of experience in human healthcare technology to the project.

During the eight-week “market discovery phase”, the SMART team worked with a wide range of stakeholders from across the food industry to find ways to increase the impact of the SMART tool.

The DigiSpark program offered Dr. Craig and Dr. Dunlop will also have the opportunity to learn from other leading researchers from around the world at the fifth international conference on the responsible use of antibiotics in animals.

The voyage of discovery of the market included a “design sprint” event with a mix of veterinarians, farmers, processors, governments and consumers discussing the potential problems, benefits, opportunities and ideas for the SMART system.

Dr. Simon Doherty of Queen’s University Belfast, who joined the team in an advisory capacity, commented: “The funding will help develop an innovative platform for collecting data at the pen.

“If you know what you are using and how, you can set appropriate goals to reduce, refine and replace these products in the context of sustainable animal husbandry.”

The team is now seeking further funding from Invest NI to field test its prototype prior to launch.