Students from the Dundalk Institute of Technology’s (DkIT) Diploma in Food and Agri-Business are a winning team in the first stage of the TANDEM project ‘Start for Future’, with their project aimed at reducing livestock emissions.
The program is coordinated by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology.
The students from DkIT are the only team from Ireland to progress successfully to the next stage of this innovative project.
Students Linda Strahan, Sylvester Phelan, Hugh O’Connell and Cian Poyntz represented one of a number of teams from their program along with teams from across programs in the School of Business and Humanities who entered the competition under the guidance of their lecturer Angela Hamouda.
‘Start for Future’ programme
The TANDEM project is a Europe-wide project with seven higher education institution (HEI) partners (including DkIT) which aims to support capacity building in entrepreneurship and innovation within the higher education sector.
The ‘Start for Future’ program is an initiative of international universities of EU Excel and Tandem Plus.
It is open to students, staff or existing teams who have a business idea in manufacturing, circular economy or sustainable urban mobility.
This winning group of students from part-time Agri Food Science Y2 have progressed to the second stage of this project with their sustainable idea’AsparaGas-B-gone‘.
Irish farmers and agriculture are facing major challenges due to climate change and the need to adapt to a more sustainable method of farming to protect our environment for both present and future generations.
This DkIT team of students are currently farming or are from a farming background and working in the agri-food sector, and are very aware of the problems that are facing Irish agriculture now and in the future.
The announcement of planned sectoral carbon budgets on October 26, 2021 stated that Irish agriculture must reduce its carbon emissions by 51% by 2030 and achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) confirmed that Irish agriculture is a big contributor of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions totaling 37.1% in 2020.
The GHGs that livestock produce that most affect the environment are methane and nitrous oxide.
The DkIT team of students decided to pursue the idea of reducing methane levels in livestock with the use of a red seaweed called asparagopsis armata. They called their seaweed product ‘AsparaGas-B-gone’.
Research on emissions project
The team carried out primary research by sending a survey to a wide selection of farmers involved in different sectors of livestock farming.
They also interviewed the previous national chairman of the dairy committee of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) and received very positive and encouraging feedback regarding their project idea.
Getting through to the second phase of the ‘Start for Future’ program involves the team participating in an eight-week program where the students will accelerate their idea with the help of coaching from incubator consultants, industry and EIT experts with 20 international partners.
Students will pitch their ideas on March 25, 2022.
Head of Department of Agriculture, Food and Animal Health at DkIT, Dr. Breda Brennan said: ‘I am delighted to hear of this success and congratulate the students and their lecturer Angela Hamouda.
“This is a highly successful program which provides opportunities for graduates to upskill for new or existing roles within the food industry and entrepreneurship is a very important element of the programme.”
The diploma in Food and Agri-Business is based in the Department of Agriculture, Food and Animal Health in the School of Health and Science at DkIT.
It is a level 7 part-time program which runs over three semesters (including an industry placement) and is funded by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) Springboard initiative.