Investors flock to schoolgirls' sheep safety product
A group of teenage girls from Meath and Cavan have raised over €10,000 in 'crowd-sourced' funding for their electronic sheep protection idea, which has already won county and student innovation awards.
Designed to tackle the problem of dogs attacking sheep, the 'Sheepwatch' product consists of an electronic collar, which links with mobile phone technology to trigger a text to the farmer whose sheep are under attack.
The idea was the brainchild of Emma McCabe (14) from Mount Nugent, Co Cavan, after she had a conversation with her father, Derek, about a sheep kill in the midlands and other worrying incidents on local farms.
The idea remained dormant until Emma and her classmates at St Oliver's Post Primary in Oldcastle – Edel Campbell, Zoe Maguire and Ricardas Cepanauskas – developed it as their entry for a Meath County Enterprise competition. It won an award there before scooping them another prize at last month's County and City Enterprise Board Student Enterprise Awards.
Since then, they have taken the idea to the next stage by raising €10,000 on fundit.ie – a website where members of the public can pledge money to innovative ideas and projects.
The young entrepreneurs are hoping that this sum will be matched by funding from the local Enterprise office, which, along with technical support from Tallaght and Athlone Institutes of Technology, will enable them to fine tune a prototype 'Sheepwatch Collar'.
The collar tracks the animal's pulse, which increases rapidly when dogs attack. This triggers a VHF signal from the collar, which is picked up by a receiver located in a secure area of the field. This receiver contains a GSM unit, which links with the mobile phone networks to trigger a text. If the farmer doesn't respond with a blank text within two minutes, the message will be sent again.
The innovators say that only one in eight sheep in a flock would need to be fitted with the collar and it's envisaged that the collars will retail at €10-15 and the signal receiver at €150.
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