‘Agri’ meets ‘Tech’: A new chapter for Dogpatch Labs

Billionaire Irish entrepreneur, Dr. Pearse Lyons, started Alltech with just $10,000. He’s now launching an agri-tech accelerator in partnership with Dogpatch Labs.

When I look back over the last two years, sometimes it feels I’ve spent more time wearing a hard hat / high vis and standing on construction sites than actually working with startup founders.

As a former ‘tech startup’ founder turned ‘startup hub’ founder it was a massive learning curve for me and an intense phase: but we’ve bootstrapped it and tripled in size, first expanding into 200 year old whiskey vaults and then old storage space on the mezzanine floor.

That ‘build out’ phase was a necessary step in our evolution — now the focus is layering new value-adds on the physical platform we’ve built. That’s what Dogpatch Labs is ultimately about: building community, helping founders and following our mission of accelerating the development of the startup ecosystem.

The Dogpatch community today is a mix of Irish startups, international tech companies, social enterprises and corporate offsite innovation hubs, and a diverse membership of freelancers, developers and investors. It has housed some of Ireland’s best startups such as Intercom which has gone on to raise over $100M. Besides that, Dogpatch is also supporting the wider tech community with over 200+ events in 2016 and 5,000+ visitors.

As we entered into this new phase of Dogpatch a unique opportunity presented itself to partner with one of the most successful agricultural innovators & entrepreneurs in the world — Dr. Pearse Lyons — to run a global agri-tech accelerator.

Yes, there has been an explosion of corporate accelerators in recent years and yes some seem to just be about ‘startup tourism’ — but as my friend & mentor Jon Bradford (ex MD Techstars London and now formal advisor to this accelerator) recently wrote there is a very valid role for corporates in the startup ecosystem if done correctly (and vice versa).

Tech is now starting to disrupt the agricultural world and investment is pouring in. At the same time it’s really hard for a startup to sell into the agri-industry so an accelerator driven by a top billionaire entrepreneur from the industry is going be truly unique and impactful.

Another reason I was excited about the opportunity to partner on this was the level of engagement from Alltech — the founder and the family (including his son Dr. Mark Lyons), and CIO Aidan Connolly are directly involved and startups get to benefit from their expertise and influence.

Startups have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to present on the main stage of one of the world’s biggest agribusiness conferences.

Alltech throws one of the biggest annual conferences in the agri-world in Kentucky, USA and this year the selected startups will have an opportunity to pitch on the main stage. All expenses paid from flights, accommodation to high end stands for your startup in ‘Innovation Alley’ costing thousands of dollars.

It’s taken me a few sessions with the Alltech team to fully grasp how big deal this conference is. Think Web Summit for the agri-business world: 3,000 attendees. Millions spent on the production value. One of the largest concentrations of agri-leaders in the world in one place. And you get to be the center of that for the ultimate sales opportunity of your life.

The Vaults, Dogpatch Labs — Meeting Rooms, Event & Workshop Space

This a global accelerator designed to facilitate both local and international teams and it’s a huge boost for Ireland’s tech eco-system that Alltech choose to base it here. When we first connected with Alltech, they were considering a number of potential locations & partners for the programme including a number in the US.

Ireland startup ecosystem has a lot to offer and agriculture is such a huge part of Ireland’s economy. We are starting to produce some really interesting Irish agritech startups — it’s a key vertical of tech that we have an opportunity to be a global leader in.

As a startup hub in Ireland we have a great support networks including Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland and others. We’re located in the heart of Dublin Docklands beside the European tech giants of Google, Facebook, Airbnb and Twitter. It’s 25 minutes to the Dublin Airport and sits on the main public transport hub of Ireland — so international and regional teams can get in and out easily.

Dogpatch Labs is also part of Google Partner Network (see video) meaning that while we are deeply connected to the local tech ecosystem — we are are directly connected with startup hubs across the world and that means these 10 startups get to plug into this international network of physical spaces which includes everything from 30 locations in China to other major agri-industry nations like Brasil and USA.

This is an important milestone for Dogpatch Labs, because this is the first time in two years where we can dedicate an entire part of the business to creating a structured programme for startups and helping these startups grow and for the all the reasons above we’re excited the focus is agri-tech and partnering with Alltech.

Dr. Lyons started his agri-science startup in the 1980’s and built it into a billion dollar business through innovating and being an entrepreneur — that alone should provide a source of inspiration for any new agri-tech startup, especially for Irish startups. The fact that he now is actively out seeking to help accelerate your agri-tech startup is a massive opportunity and we’re excited to help make that happen.

Patrick Walsh, MD, Dogpatch Labs

Read more: dogpatch.link/alltech (Silicon Republic Article)

Apply here: Alltech.com/Accelerator