Young minds were on top form in the equine sector in the recent ‘Dragon’s Den’ style competition facilitated by GrowIn. The budding inventors were rewarded with cash prizes sponsored by the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission (FFCC). The GrowIn competition was designed to inspire innovative ideas that contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The competitors focused on climate change, greenhouse gas reduction, biodiversity loss, soil health, environmental protection, and food security challenges.

After a period of design and workshops, ten finalists pitched their ideas to a panel of four judges: Nicola Woods (Ulster Bank), John Woods (FFCC), Dr Eric Long (CAFRE), and Nigel Murphy (CAFRE). Dr Eric Long commented that: “The ideas presented had great potential for significant economic, environmental, and social positive impacts. The enthusiasm of participants in demonstrating how their ideas would work in practice and the evidence of financial viability was impressive.”

The prize for first place was awarded to Sara Podhorova (a Foundation Degree Equine Management student) from Dungannon, who presented a vertically farmed hydroponic fodder project. Second place went to the BSc (Hons) Degree Equine Management student duo Fina O’Dea (Co Clare) and Ella Grogan (Co Waterford) for their inspiring use of equine water drinker management technology.

Third position was awarded as a tie. Samuel McIvor from Cookstown, a Foundation Degree in Agriculture and Technology student pitched an aerobic digestion project and Equine Honours Degree students Emma McNeill from Co Cavan and Charlotte McClure from Co Meath designed lanolin equestrian products.