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University College Dublin captures first prize at Alltech Innovation Competition with “Moo Shoe”

Dr. Aoife Lyons, director of educational initiatives at Alltech, presenting Shannon Coco, Catherine O’Connell and Rebecca Fitzgerald of University College Dublin, winners of the Alltech Innovation Competition 2015 with a cheque for €4,000. The winning concept “Moo Shoe” provides a solution to lameness, an issue that affects one in five cows on Irish dairy farms.

[DUNBOYNE, Ireland] – Global animal health and nutrition company Alltech is delighted to announce the 2015 winner of the Alltech Innovation Competition hosted at its European headquarters, Dunboyne, Co. Meath. University College Dublin (UCD) students, Catherine O’Connell, Rebecca Fitzgerald and Shannon Coco, were awarded the overall prize for their outstanding competition entry – Moo Shoe. The Moo Shoe provides a solution to one of the biggest problems in the dairy cow industry – lameness, an issue that affects one in five cows on Irish dairy farms. A total of six universities battled for the prize fund of €4,000 while runners-up each received a cheque for €1,000.

The Moo Shoe is made from durable, antifungal polyurethane and rubber. The shoe slips securely over hooves, eliminating the need for glue or nails, and it prevents the primary causes of lameness. “When researching and developing our idea, we were amazed to discover that little exists on the market to prevent lameness. The average cost of lameness per cow in Ireland is a staggering €283, whereas the Moo Shoe ensures infection-free and injury-free hooves for a minimal cost per cow,” said Rebecca Fitzgerald.

Facilitated by Dr. Aoife Lyons, director of educational initiatives at Alltech, and Professor Damien McLoughlin, UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, the competition celebrates business and entrepreneurship, and challenges the creative minds of university students. Teams from Dublin City University, Dublin Institute of Technology, Trinity College Dublin, National University of Ireland Maynooth, University College Dublin and University of Limerick each presented forward-thinking business plans on their innovative ideas in the areas of agriculture, food, human health and sustainability.

The competition was judged by Dr. James Roche, emeritus professor at UCD, Constantin Gurdgiev, economist and lecturer at Trinity College Dublin, and Ross Hunt, co-founder of Agrilarity, a company dedicated to digitising and automating agricultural processes.  

“These young people are a reflection of the talent and potential that Ireland has to offer,” said Dr. Aoife Lyons. “Alltech is known for working with our customers to identify problems and provide natural solutions. This year’s competition entrants displayed real insight, talent and knowledge. By combining academic expertise with innovation, each group had a potentially viable product to bring to market.”

The concepts presented by the university finalists were as follows:

·         University College Dublin – Moo Shoe - provides a solution to lameness in dairy cows

·         National University Ireland Maynooth – Moodley Manor – manufacturing dairy-free & animal-free foods

·         Dublin City University – The Summit Shaker – stainless steel protein shaker

·         Dublin Institute of Technology – Hear Here Ltd. – assistive technology devices for the deaf and hard of hearing communities

·         Trinity College Dublin – GreenCar - a peer‐to‐peer car sharing company

·         University of Limerick – Integrated digital marketing communications platform for small and medium enterprises  

Alltech continues to work with Irish universities to ensure the development of talented and educated Irish agri-business graduates. Last year’s winner, John Kennedy, from Waterford Institute of Technology, won the overall prize for an android app using GPS technology to guide farmers while spraying and spreading fertiliser. The concept ‘Field Buddy’ is currently in development, and Kennedy is furthering his studies in the area of information technology to develop new apps for the agricultural industry.  

The Alltech Innovation Competition reflects Alltech’s commitment to lifelong education and the inspiration of innovation and entrepreneurship.

Another example of this commitment is the company’s flagship international conference, now in its 31st year in Lexington, Kentucky. Registration for the Alltech REBELation conference, to be held May 17-20, is open now. For more information, or to request an invitation, contact a local Alltech representative, visit rebel.alltech.com or email rebelation@alltech.com. Join the conversation on Twitter with #REBELation.