$1 million prize for an incubation system that turns male chicks into females

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Each year, around 65 billion chickens are slaughtered for food and approximately 1 trillion eggs consumed worldwide. For the most part the poultry industry is heavily dependent on female chickens for their preferred body type (for eating) and obviously for egg laying. Consequently the life of a newly hatched male chick is very short, within a day he is humanely culled. Whilst this quite rightly raises animal welfare and ethical questions it is also incredibly wasteful. One can easily see that 50% of the resources allocated to egg hatching (heating, water, production capacity etc.) are lost when only half the hatched chicks have a ‘purpose’.

Soos Technology – transforming male chickens into egg-laying females

One technology company that has a solution to these male chick breeding problems is Soos Technology (Israel). Their patented technology mitigates the controversial practice of male-chick culling by transforming male chickens into egg-laying females, whilst still in the egg. They do this by using high-tech sound waves and vibration – a non-invasive and nonchemical solution in combination with optimised humidity, temperature and CO2 levels. AI-driven software controls customized incubation cells that affect the sex development process in chicken embryos resulting in more functional female chickens that lay eggs.

This week, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, on behalf of Grow-NY (a global food and agriculture business competition) named Soos Technology as the $1 million grand prize winner of round two of the competition. Grow-NY focuses on strengthening the food and agriculture innovation cluster within the Central New York, Finger Lakes and Southern Tier regions of New York state.

Soos Technology CEO Yael Alter said, “With our Grow-NY prize money, we plan to create over twenty high-paying research and engineering jobs in the next two years, by building the NY Poultry Research Hub, which will connect academic research with poultry start-ups and corporates, to commercialize validated research. We are thrilled to put down roots in the Grow-NY region.

Over 1500 people registered to attend Grow-NY’s virtual Summit. 264 companies applied to the competition including startups from 27 countries. In the U.S., 25 states were represented. 29% of applicants included a female founder and 32% included a founder from an underrepresented minority group.

Competition finalists like Soos Technology were able to share their business plans and answer questions from a panel of judges in front of an online audience; each received 10 minutes to share their pitch and 10 minutes for questions.

In addition to the $1 million top prize, two $500,000 prizes, and four $250,000 prizes were also awarded. The other awarded teams included:

$500,000 Winner:  Zetifi, New South Wales, Australia has developed technology that enables farmers to access fast and reliable connectivity across the entirety of their property through the design and manufacturing of ruggedized wireless network devices that solve connectivity problems in rural and remote areas.

$500,000 Winner: SoFresh, Pleasant Prairie, Wis., manufactures a unique packaging material with an organic vapor to extend the shelf life of fresh foods such as bread, berries, and cheese.

$250,000 Winner: Halomine, Ithaca, N.Y., has developed anti-microbial products to ensure the safety of our food supply.

$250,000 Winner: Candidus, Hull, Ga., develops cost-effective supplemental lighting strategies and control systems for commercial greenhouse operations.

$250,000 Winner: PureSpace, Busan, South Korea, produces a nanotechnology device that extends shelf-life and improves food safety by decomposing ethylene gas, airborne mold, and viruses effectively and efficiently.

$250,000 Winner: Leep Foods, Rochester, N.Y., grows premium organic mushrooms using regenerative soil methods on nutrient-enriched American hardwoods for consumers and restaurants.

New this year, the competition also featured an “Audience Choice” award for the startup voted by the public to have the most innovative and promising pitch. Re-Nuble from New York, N.Y., received $10,000 in cash and $5,000 in marketing services from The Martin Group. The inaugural Audience Choice award was sponsored by Wegmans.

We had a diverse group of innovative entrepreneurs from around the world this year and the competition was fierce. The business plans we heard last week represented twenty ideas, any of which could transform the food, beverage and agriculture industry, and create opportunity in Upstate New York,” said Jenn Smith, Program Director of Grow-NY. “Congratulations to all of our competitors for advancing their plans and making connections in the Grow-NY region, and especially to this year’s winners.”

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About Author

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Matt has worked in digital publishing for twenty years, holding management positions at Nature (nature.com) and William Reed Business Media (foodmanufacture.co.uk etc.). He has also worked with BBC Worldwide, Centaur Media, UKi Media and Mark Allen Group. Since 2010 Matt has been a digital consultant working with B2B media companies in the agricultural, automotive, aviation, robotics and technology sectors. As Chairman of his local allotment association Matt grows his own food whilst chasing the dream of a one tonne giant pumpkin. He is a member of the British Garden Media Guild and was a finalist in the Garden Media Guild Awards 'blog of the year' category in 2018 and 2019.

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