Tenfold NetZero Accelerator Programme

DAERA and Digital Catapult are looking for technology solution providers to solve Net Zero challenges for three Northern Ireland businesses.

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Participants in the Programme will receive £20,000.00 commercial funding and will participate in DAERA’s inaugural NetZero Accelerator, working alongside a high-profile challenge-owner, with a final showcase to an invited audience of investors, partners and industry representatives.

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In November 2023, DAERA announced its partnership with Digital Catapult Northern Ireland on a new innovation programme to provide local businesses with the opportunity to access the UK’s world class technology community to tackle challenges they face in the drive towards Net Zero. Following months of engagement with a variety of businesses across Northern Ireland, DAERA and Digital Catapult are pleased to announce that the Tenfold NetZero Accelerator programme will support three of Northern Ireland’s leading agriculture and manufacturing businesses: AgriSearch, Dale Farm and Encirc.

Each of the three companies has set out a challenge, and solution providers will receive £20,000 in funding from the industry partners.

Encirc Challenge: How can improved bottle inspection technologies increase successful defect detection within dark glass containers, reducing the need to conduct rework and associated energy consumption and cost?

AgriSearch Challenge: What new data visualisation tools can help drive behaviour change amongst farmers towards improved organic manure application (nutrient management), leading to positive economic and environmental outcomes across Northern Ireland farms?

Dale Farm Challenge: How can the application of IoT enable more accurate measuring and use of feed at a farm-level across Dale Farm’s co-operative, including farms of different technology maturity, contributing to improved economic and sustainability outcomes?

Details of each challenge are given below.

The Tenfold NetZero Accelerator Programme encourages a wide range of technology solution providers to apply, not only from across Northern Ireland but also the wider UK. In particular, we invite businesses using an advanced technology that Digital Catapult works with such as: 5G, Quantum, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) or Internet of Things (IoT).

  • Minimum requirements to participate in the programme are:

    • Applicants must be a UK based registered company, or prove they are a company that has an establishment in the UK, and undertake all activity in the UK, with the capacity of travelling to Northern Ireland for occasional meetings / demonstrations.
    • Applicants must have a UK business bank account for any payments to be made.
    • Applicants must be eligible to receive the amount in State Assistance  (see FAQ for further details)
    • Using an advanced Digital Technology that Digital Catapult works with:
      • AI
      • ML
      • 5G
      • DLT
      • Quantum, etc.
      • IoT (inc. photonics)
      • Immersive
  • Encirc has put forth a challenge aimed at rectifying deficiencies in the current inspection capabilities within its bottling plant. Specifically, the focus is on enhancing bottle inspection technologies to bolster defect detection rates within Encirc’s dark glass containers. This improvement initiative seeks to minimise the necessity for rework while curbing associated energy consumption and costs. Given the distinctive color and opacity of the dark glass container they produce, conventional quality inspection methods encounter limitations. Being the sole global supplier of this particular product, Encirc faces the challenge that original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) of glass inspection machinery possess limited expertise in inspection techniques tailored to this specific glass type.

    Solution Requirements

    Various technologies employed thus far encompass infra-red technology, high-resolution cameras, X-ray, and manual inspections. Nonetheless, these approaches either lack precision or scalability to meet the demand of inspecting 250 bottles per minute on the production line. This invitation calls upon companies to propose a solution leveraging one or more technologies to address this challenge.

    Some of the essential elements required for Encirc’s PoC include:

    • Capable of inspecting up to 250 bottles per minute on the production line
    • Capable of detecting inclusions embedded in the glass that are 2mm or larger
    • Capable of detecting finish defects and malformed threads
    • User-friendly interface with easy setup
    • Ability to communicate with existing loss accounting equipment
  • The challenge at hand revolves around optimising nutrient management practices across farms in the region and harnessing the potential of new data visualisation tools to instigate behavioral changes among farmers. This shift is aimed at promoting improved organic manure application practices, which in turn can yield positive economic and environmental outcomes for Northern Irish farms.

    Currently, farmers encounter challenges in planning and executing the use of fertilisers on their land. With a gap in effectively utilising organic manures, and engagement within the farming community lacking; increased adoption of organic manures not only reduces expenditure on manufactured fertilisers but also mitigates nutrient losses into the environment, thereby positively impacting issues related to soil and water quality.

    Solution Requirements

    The proposed solution entails aggregating and analysing existing relevant data sources, such as the Sustainable Horticulture Nutrient System (SHNS), and developing a user-friendly mobile application or tool. This tool would empower farmers to make informed decisions regarding the where and when of organic manure application, optimising efficiency and economic impact. The development process may involve leveraging data analytics, machine learning/artificial intelligence (ML/AI), and data visualization techniques.

    Essential requirements for the AgriSearch PoC may include:

    • Visualisation of data including nutrient levels with Phosphorus (P), Potassium (K), and pH, represented with color-coded maps
    • Integration of weather data and data from SNHS, Farm Maps, and NiFas
    • Provision for manual data entry with field names and group fields where appropriate
    • Display of economic data indicating the value of organic manure when applied to the correct field
    • Accessibility via mobile phones, tablets, and PCs for ease of use by farmers
    • Compliance with NAP standards (Nutrient Action Programme).
    • Implementation of robust data security measures and accessibility procedures within the developed system.
  • Dale Farm recognises the abundance of data sources at its disposal, which can significantly enhance decision-making regarding resource allocation and operational efficiencies on their farms. They anticipate that leveraging data more effectively can positively impact various business aspects, including monitoring feed levels on partner farms, tracking bulk feed intake on individual farms, and monitoring feed consumption at the individual animal level.

    Their challenge lies in exploring how the application of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies can facilitate more accurate measurement and utilization of feed at a farm-level across Dale Farm’s cooperative, encompassing farms of varying technology maturity. This initiative aims to contribute to improved economic and sustainability outcomes.

    Solution Requirements

    Initial solutions aimed at enhancing livestock feed management across farms would leverage both existing and new data governance frameworks, data visualisation techniques, IoT devices, and artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) algorithms to offer feasible solutions.

    Essential elements required for the PoC include:

    • Establishment of infrastructure integrating sensors, gateways, and remote connectivity to report both aggregated and individual data metrics to a centralised platform.
    • Reporting of data to both individual farms and the Dale Farm systems.
    • Correlation and display of specific data metrics for analysis purposes.
    • Deployment of a user-friendly system post-installation, allowing for simple configuration adjustments based on conditions, such as selecting different options.
    • Utilisation of industrial-grade equipment, such as IP67 or IP68-rated devices, suitable for operation in harsh environmental conditions.
  • Digital Catapult will hold a briefing webinar on Thursday 25 April, 11am-noon: click here to register for a place.

    You are also welcome to contact the relevant teams from Innovate UK Business Connect: Materials, Agrifood, Digital and Robotics/AI.


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