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TU Dublin Product Design Students On A Winning Spree

Posted: 27 May, 2019

Four students studying Product Design at TU Dublin have invented a portable kit for testing parasites in animals, which reduces the wait time for a result from several days to a matter of minutes.

Daniel Izquierdo, Tara McElligott, Sean Smith and Jose Lopez celebrate winning the Bolton Trust Student Enterprise Competition.

Tástáil is the brainchild of third-year Product Design students, Tara McElligott, Sean Smith, Jose Lopez, and Daniel Izquierdo who are all Co-founders of Micron Agritech.

The innovation is already making waves, with the team winning the Bolton Trust Student Enterprise Competition, the NIBS Worldwide Business Plan Competition and making it to the final round of Enterprise Ireland’s Student Entrepreneur Awards.

Daniel Izquierdo, Micron Agritech’s Chief Marketing Officer, says the idea for Tástáil came from learning about how long it takes a farmer to test animals for parasites. “Currently, when a farmer tests their animals for parasites, they must send faecal samples to a lab for a vet to test them which can take from 3-5 working days. As a result, many farmers regularly give their livestock antimicrobial medication to prevent infection even if they don’t need it. 80% of all antimicrobial medication produced globally is used in the agriculture industry, and practices such as these are leading to increased antimicrobial resistance, which could kill 10 million people a year by 2050

Continuing, Izquierdo explains, “Tástáil allows farmers to take a sample from their animals and test it on the spot, delivering a result in minutes - which lessens the need to administer unnecessary antibiotics. Farmers do this to protect the rest of the herd, but with Tástáil, they will know whether their animals are healthy or not immediately, saving them time, and money on veterinary bills and medication.”  

Micron Agritech attributes their success to a revolutionary product, but they insist they couldn’t have gotten so far without the help and expertise of TU Dublin staff. The team’s CEO Sean Smith said, “From the outset, our lecturers Dr Colm O’Kane, Keith Colton and Oliver Herbst provided us with expert support and guidance to develop our product and our business. We are also very lucky to have the support of Kieran O’Connell and Ivan Kelly from TU Dublin Hothouse who have assisted us in filing for a patent and registering as a company. It was also great to have assistance from the School of Computer Science in Kevin Street and to apply their research in the development of our machine learning technology."

Commenting on the team’s success, Dr Colm O’Kane, Product Design Programme Chair at TU Dublin, said, “We’re delighted with Team Micron's ongoing success. Tástáil is an excellent demonstration of how we at Technological University Dublin work to dissolve the boundaries between discipline areas to produce solutions to complex problems. In our multidisciplinary Product Design programme, we aim for projects to be desirable for the user, technically feasible, and viable from a business standpoint, and it's great to see this multifaceted approach continuing to develop pioneering innovators and entrepreneurs like the Micron Agritech team.”

How does the product work?

The team developed a portable testing kit that allows farmers to test their animals for parasites within minutes on site. All a farmer has to do is insert a prepared sample into an analysis device, and they then receive a text message with the health information of their animal. The product employs technology based upon machine learning algorithms developed by the School of Computer Science in TU Dublin.

Watch a demonstration of Tástáil here.

Daniel Izquierdo, Chief Marketing Officer, Micron Agritech

Tara McElligott, Chief Design Officer, Micron Agritech

Sean Smith, Chief Executive Officer, Micron Agritech

Jose Lopez, Chief Operating Officer, Micron Agritech