Egg-Tech Prize opens Phase II to end male chick culling

Applications are now being accepted for the final stage of the two-part international Egg-Tech Prize competition to end male-chick culling.

Meredith Johnson Headshot
Zoran Kolundzija I
Zoran Kolundzija I

Applications are now being accepted for the final stage of the two-part international Egg-Tech Prize competition to end male-chick culling. The competition was launched by the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) and Open Philanthropy on July 20, 2022.

The competition’s intent is to discover technology that can accurately and non-invasively perform sex determination of layer chicks before hatching to improve animal welfare and increase the profitability of egg producers.

In Phase II, the groups are offering $4 million to the individuals or teams that have the potential to provide a scalable and commercially feasible solution to determine in-ovo sexing. The winners will receive $1 million per year for four years, with the first installment given in Fall 2022, if there is a successful entry.

In 2019, the FFAR awarded approximately $2 million in Phase I Seed Grants to help develop the necessary technology to compete in Phase II. However, participants are eligible to compete in Phase II, even if they did not participate in Phase I.

How to apply?

Full proposals should be submitted by August 31, 2022, by 5 p.m. EDT through FFAR’s online application Grant Management System. Applications submitted outside of this System will not be considered. 

The groups welcome all domestic and international applications from higher education institutions, non-profit and for-profit organizations and government-affiliated research agencies. 

Additional information can be found on the Egg-Tech Prize Request for Proposals webpage, including application guidelines.

Questions related to the online submission system can be forwarded to the FFAR’s Grant Management team at [email protected]. Questions related to the Egg-Tech Prize can be forwarded to [email protected].

Who won Phase I in 2019? 

The six Phase I finalists of the Egg-Tech Prize that received seed funding to help move ideas from concept into design were SensIT Ventures, KU Leuven, Microscale Devices, the USDA Agricultural Research Services, the University of Minnesota and AI imaging company ORBEM.

The finalists utilized a variety of scientific techniques, including a microchip-based chemical sensor, specialized sensor technology, multidimensional spectral mapping, artificial intelligence, fiber optics, machine learning, 3D scanning and MRI technology.

In-ovo technologies already in use

While this competition is looking for in-ovo sexing technology, similar technologies are being used in some countries. For example, German genetics company Lohmann Deutschland announced in July 2022 that Respeggct’s SELEGGT Circuit system will soon be installed in its Ankumv hatchery. The system can determine the sex of chicks using a small fluid sample, allowing producers to separate males from females before hatch.

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