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BIA Innovator Campus to transform the food entrepreneurship landscape in the West of Ireland

The BIA Innovator Campus at Teagasc, Athenry, Co. Galway has the backing of the highest impact collaboration of public – industry – community - education ever assembled in the food sector in Ireland.

  • BIA Innovator Campus CLG supported by Galway County Council and Teagasc have been awarded just under €2.5 million from Enterprise Ireland as part of the Regional Development fund announced this morning by Heather Humphreys, Minister for Business, Enterprise, and Innovation. The overall hub is expected to cost in the region of €3.9m. 
  • Galway & the West of Ireland has been designated as European Region of Gastronomy for 2018. Both Galway County Council and Teagasc are two of the four key partners leading this designation, working closely with Galway City Council and GMIT.
  • This collaboration on the development of the BIA Innovator Campus will leave a strong legacy for the region in terms of innovation facilities and champion the theme of ‘Supporting SME’s & Innovation’ under the European designation.
  • The strength of the project was borne out of the success of a strong collaboration; Galway County Council as the local authority with enhanced responsibility for economic development facilitated bring together the partners at a local and national level. This was coupled with Teagasc’s role as the National Food and Agriculture Development Authority. Galway-Roscommon Educational Training Board (GRETB) held a regional role, St Columba Credit Union Limited (SCCUL) played a role in terms of social enterprise and then the input of the local community through Athenry Community Council. (Full list at the end)
  • The project will be rolled out over 3 years and is due to commence in 2018. The planning permission process will commence in the coming weeks.
  • It will create 360+ jobs in over 40 businesses across the west of Ireland, providing much needed facilities to help the food industry in the west.
  • A range of facilities will be available to businesses across the western corridor from short term use innovation laboratories, incubation hubs for longer stages of product development and high potential start up units for businesses getting off the ground. Alongside this, there will be a range of support and technical back up along with showcase & training facilities. (See detail below)
  • Quote from Kevin Kelly, CE of Galway County Council; “
    “Galway County Council are delighted to be one of the lead partners in the Bia Innovator Campus. This is a significant step change project which will address challenges facing the food sector through the provision of a number of supports and essential infrastructure.
    This is also a key legacy project for the Galway & West of Ireland European Region of Gastronomy designation for 2018.
    The project could not have been achieved without the hard work and input from our other lead partners and the many stakeholders involved. This is an excellent example of how collaborative working adds value in achieving shared objectives. We look forward to moving on to the delivery stage and in creating key jobs for the West of Ireland.”
  • Quote from Professor Gerry Boyle, Director, Teagasc;
    “Teagasc are delighted to welcome this funding for the for the Bia Innovator Campus proposal. This proposal offers a unique opportunity to link with and complement the national food programmes such as Food Works and the Teagasc Food Gateways Programmes and the Teagasc Food Centres in Moorepark and Ashtown as well as the Moorepark Technology Limited (MTL). I am confident that this linkage to Teagasc will accelerate product development and ultimately increase the success of the BIA Innovator Campus. Teagasc are delighted that the Bia Innovator Campus will be located on the site of the Mellow’s Campus in Athenry.” 
  • Elaine Donohue, Galway & West of Ireland Region of Gastronomy for 2018;
    “Supporting SME’s and Innovation is one of the five key themes being explored as part of our European designation for 2018. I am delighted to see such a forward thinking collaboration across such a wide range of partners and it is a credit to GCC & Teagasc, who drove the project to detailed design stage & presented such a robust bid. It is wonderful legacy to have and will create a strong platform for supporting the talented producers in our region.”


BIA Innovator Campus is a step change project that will transform the food entrepreneurship landscape in the West of Ireland. It addresses the need for regional food workspace infrastructure by realising a dynamic food and drink innovation and incubation centre of scale, 2301 square metres (23,767 sq. ft.). It will create 360 jobs over 40+ businesses; delivering training, development and support to in excess of 2,400 entrepreneurs and learners; injecting in excess of €11.5million in payroll in the region and facilitating the development of nearly 500 new products, all within 3 years based on the recently completed Enterprise Ireland supported Feasibility Study. The project is a unique infrastructure enabler comprising a wide range of supports that builds on existing supports and strengths while addressing key challenges and deficits that exist, particularly in the West of Ireland.

The proposal and compelling location at Teagasc, Athenry, Co. Galway at the converse of the M17/M18 and the M6 has the backing of the highest impact collaboration of public – industry – community - education ever assembled in the food sector in Ireland.

Galway County Council and Teagasc have been the driving forces and lead authorities in developing the concept and bringing it to detailed design. Both organisation are partnered by the GRETB, SCCUL Enterprises and Athenry Community Council as the lead team and members of the CLG established for the project. These partners are joined by a wide range of other organisations including Enterprise Ireland, Bord Iascaigh Mhara, Bord Bia, the Local Enterprise Offices from Galway, Clare, Mayo & Roscommon, Údarás na Gaeltachta, NUI Galway including the Shannon College of Hotel Management & St Angela’s College Sligo, GMIT, UCD, North West Regional Authority, Western Development Commission, West Regional Skills Forum, Galway City Council, Mayo County Council, Roscommon County Council, Clare County Council, the Food Safety Authority, Health Services Executive, Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, Galway Rural Development and the Irish Farmers Association.

The BIA Innovator Campus project will deliver on a range of national, regional and local strategies, plans and policies including the ambitious national targets of Food Wise 2025, the plans and strategies of each of the agencies involved and the Galway County Local Economic & Community Plan. It is a specific action in the West Region Action Plan for Jobs 2015 – 2017. Existing research and the EI supported Feasibility Study prove an unqualified need for the project which will link in with and build on existing specialist supports provided by Teagasc and the other partners. The development of the proposal has involved wide engagement and has tailored made solutions for many of the challenges facing the sector which can inhibit growth. When realised the BIA Innovator Campus will be a regional/national centre of excellence for the food sector with a focus on business support and development for all stages of the food chain from the primary producer, to the entrepreneur starting off, to the company that wants to grow and export to the chef and service sector that engage with the end consumer.

Specifically, the BIA Innovator Campus comprises nine independent own door starter/growth units, three independent own door HPSU growth units and four unique co-working food incubators (dairy, meat, seafood and multi product – a first in Ireland) backed by a potent mix of technical, innovation and commercial support at the same time in the same place. The proposal includes the provision of essential training and development space to meet demands of the sector in the widest sense (e.g. entrepreneurs, chefs, food scientists) with all the key agencies delivering their services, making it a true one stop shop and centre of excellence. The GRETB will be anchor tenants delivering a training to support the sector in a coordinated and planned manner working with the project partners and the Strategic Advisory Group. Businesses will be able to accelerate their growth with a much needed continuum collaborative pathway to support them and they will have access to facilities such as the business engagement zone, innovation space, training space, demonstration and showcasing areas as well as the food grade production space. The BIA Innovator Campus will provide an exceptional and unique ecosystem based on best practice nationally and internationally, packaging same into an exceptional bundle.

The project is only possible through the opportunity to unlock a 1.8 hectare resource in Teagasc, Athenry while providing unprecedented one location access and connection into the Teagasc specialist food innovation and science expertise. The Teagasc linkage is key to the innovative nature of BIA Innovator Campus. Companies will benefit from unique access to Teagasc Food Research Centres in Ashtown, home to the Meat Industry Development Unit and the National Food Centre and Moorepark, home to Moorepark Technology Limited (MTL) state of the art pilot dairy plant who will provide unique local access to their services through onsite and remote training and advice. This involvement allows food producers to benefit from research and farming practice, strengthening the transfer of knowledge, stimulating innovation in production methods and developing innovative solutions applicable in a practice environment.

Galway County Council are in the process of commencing the Part VIII Planning process with an aim to start the project in 2018 as part of the regions designation as ‘ Galway & West of Ireland European Region of Gastronomy 2018’.

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