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Tuesday, 14th May 2019

Meath part of region ranked in top 10 globally for food and AgTech startups

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An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar meets John McGowan CEO of Unicorn Magic during Friday's visit to the Kells Tech Hub.

An Irish region which includes County Meath has been ranked among the top 10 start-up ecosystems in the world for food and AgTech companies.

The Global Startup Ecosystem Report (GSER), a detailed annual dossier which examines the support structures in countries around the world that enable start-ups to grow and scale, has ranked the Mid-East region of Ireland - counties Meath, Kildare and Wicklow – among the top-performing ecosystems across the globe.

The region’s inclusion in this year’s GSER 2019 report was spearheaded by Meath Enterprise. The report was launched at The Next Web conference in Amsterdam on 9th May.

Among the report’s key findings is that the Mid-East has a top 10 activation ecosystem when it comes to AgTech – the application of technology to food production - and food innovation, and it has already managed to create $150 million in ecosystem value.

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The report also cites R&D tax credits, attractive corporate tax rates and low talent costs among reasons why the region remains attractive to entrepreneurs.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who was briefed on the report during a visit to Meath Enterprise’s Kells Tech Hub last Friday, said: “The Government wants to make sure that the economic prosperity that we now have is felt in every part of the country and is felt in every home, while also building an Ireland, a society, in which nobody feels left out.  What I have seen today in this centre really speaks to that mission and to that vision.”

The Taoiseach went on: “It is great to see a Local Authority that is really leading out on enterprise development. It’s also great to see the focus on food innovation; we know that consumers are seeking out taste, traceability and sustainability – they want to know where their food is coming from and how it was produced. Meath Enterprise, through it’s Kells Tech Hub and Boyne Valley Food Innovation District initiatives, is really responding to that demand.”

During the visit the Minister for European Affairs, Helen McEntee, said: “I want to commend the drive and commitment of Gary O’Meara CEO Meath Enterprise for driving initiatives like the Kells Tech Hub, the Boyne Valley Food Innovation District and the Startup Genome collaboration to assess and develop the start-up ecosystem in the Mideast Region.”

Ms McEntee also highlighted that National Government level initiatives like Project Ireland 2040 and the National Broadband Plan are designed to open up the full economic potential of the whole country – both rural and Europe. 

“These plans will show Europe and the World that Meath and Ireland have an outward business and trading vision post Brexit, something I have worked very closely with An Taoiseach on over these past 2 years” stated the Meath East Fine Gael T.D. and Minister.

Meath Enterprise, the Navan-based enterprise development company behind the Boyne Valley Food Innovation District, has partnered with Startup Genome, a research and advisory company based in California which delivers evidence-based strategy frameworks for start-up ecosystems across all phases of development, in a bid to benchmark the Mid-East against more than 50 ecosystems globally.

Start-up Genome’s GSER is the most widely read report on start-up communities in the world and is downloaded hundreds of thousands of times each year, delivering analytics and advice to policymakers in 50 cities across 30 countries. The project examines the relative strengths and weaknesses of the Mid-East region from the perspective of how well enterprise development and start-up companies are supported.

The inclusion of the three counties in the report puts the Mid-East’s startup community on a global stage, according to Gary O’Meara, CEO of Meath Enterprise. He said the aim of the project and the ongoing partnership with Startup Genome is designed to help develop a structured framework with actions based on the region’s strengths and global best practice. 

“This can help us to support and develop local entrepreneurship more efficiently and effectively going forward,” he said. “It also provides exposure for the region on a global scale through its inclusion in the 2019 Global Startup Ecosystem Report.”

Mr O’Meara said the GSER saw the Mid-East’s ecosystem benchmarked against 50 ecosystems around the world, from Silicon Valley to Tel Aviv. “It has put us in the top 10 ecosystems based on global rankings in terms of what we are already doing but also what we are planning to do, so as an emerging ecosystem in AgTech and food, we are regarded as one to watch out for.”

The data generated by the report will help drive visibility of startup enterprises in the three counties as well as focus on the region’s strengths and shortcomings, enabling local policy leaders to take informed action where needed.

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