Colm Kelly; Patrick Kelly; Dr Grainne Watson, Fujitsu; Mark Kelly and Aidan Kelly.
DipFast, an enclosed sheep showering unit developed by Beragh, sheep farmer Mark Kelly and his company Oran Oak Engineering has been recognised as Northern Ireland’s top Agri-Science Innovation at the prestigious Catalyst Inc INVENT Awards 2016. Fujitsu, the leading Japanese information and communication technology (ICT) company, who sponsored the category, presented the award to Mark and his 3 sons at a gala ceremony in the Waterfront Hall, Belfast.
The annual INVENT Awards, sponsored by the Bank of Ireland, aims to find inventions with the greatest commercial potential. Open to inventors, scientists, entrepreneurs and students, the competitors competed for a share of the £33,000 prize fund and a place on the Northern Ireland Tech Mission to pitch to investors and potential partners in California. This year’s field of agri-food entries were shortlisted to between Oran Oak’s DipFast and Purple Magic, a coloured flesh potato variety with high levels of anthocyanins which research indicates has a beneficial impact on health.
The unique sheep showering unit was originally designed by Mark 8 years ago, using materials on his farm. In 2013 the company availed of an InvestNI Innovation Voucher through South West College InnoTech Centre, to help enhance the unit to the current prototype. DipFast aims to address a number of important considerations for the agri-food industry including the environment, user safety, animal welfare and cost. It uses a rotationally-moulded fully enclosed showering unit , manufactured by Harlequin Manufacturing Ltd. The unit can sit on a trailer and be transported anywhere. The sheep walk into it via a ramp and the chemicals are recycled between sheep, the unit also ensures contaminants don’t get into the groundwater. One farmer, as opposed to three or four, can man the operation, without worrying about coming into contact with the chemicals.
Speaking about the award Mark Kelly said; “We are delighted to have picked up this award and see it has further validation of our product and the hard work we have put in for the last 3 years. I have been a sheep farmer for over 40 years and understand the issues around treating sheep for parasites very well. Recognising the various challenges of this laborious and somewhat dangerous process we set about devising a solution. This began a three-year long process of R&D which resulted in the DipFast product which we are now planning to launch to market later in the year. This latest recognition at Invent 2016 will hopefully help us achieve our growth plans across Ireland and the UK and we would like to thank Catalyst Inc and Fujitsu for their support.”
Congratulating the team Fujitsu’s Dr Grainne Watson said: “The innovative talent on show at the Invent Awards was incredible and the work of Oran Oak Engineering demonstrates that even in a more traditional industry there is still room for innovation. We believe that the industry here has the opportunity to become world leading when it comes to Innovation, including the utilisation of ICT, and that this could be vital to the continued success of the local agri-food industry. As food supply and security issues continue to grow globally, Fujitsu’s own advancements in the sector have already helped deliver significant efficiencies in livestock husbandry and crop cultivation. We are therefore very keen to recognise and support the innovative work being developed in the sector locally and would like to congratulate Mark and the team for this great achievement.”