Smurfit-backed start-up Moocall will help farmers sleep soundly
Irish business legend Michael Smurfit is about to agree investment in an innovative technology start-up with the potential to change farm life.
The deal due to be signed this week by Smurfit Senior and the Smurfit family trust agrees to put in a substantial part of a €750,000 investment round into a company called Moocall, bringing total funding to around €1.25m to date.
Moocall is a patented calving alert sensor that sends a text message to a farmer's mobile phone to alert him that a calf is close to being born.
It's the brainchild of Offaly farmer Niall Austin and has been in development for the last two years. The ambition is to tap into a 300 million head of cattle market across the US, Canada and South America, with plans to get to launch in those markets quickly to build a sizeable export business. The serious international potential was the reason the company sought out Smurfit, for his international market expertise.
Seasoned investor Michael Stanley, who has backed Irish start-ups including healthcare technology firm OneView and energy tech start-up Endeco, is also a backer, along with one other significant Irish business figure.
"We like it because it marries one of Ireland's oldest industries with very new technology," Mr Stanley said.
The product is almost at final development stage and is being trialled by 20 farmers in Tipperary, with successful rates of calf-birth detection.
Moocall will launch this summer with an immediate export focus.