Egg-Tech Prize winners announced at 2019 Poultry Tech Summit

The search for functional in-ovo sex sorting systems shifts to the development of working prototypes.

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(WATT Global Media)

Sarah Goldberg, director of communications and legislative affairs at the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) announced the six Phase I award winners of the Egg-Tech Prize at the Poultry Tech Summit, held November 20-22, 2019, at the Georgia Tech Hotel & Conference Center in Atlanta, Georgia.

Currently, a chick’s sex can only be identified after hatching. As a result, approximately 6-7 billion male layer chicks are culled each year, a costly welfare concern for the poultry industry. Producers spend more than $70 million in labor and energy to incubate and sex these eggs and the value of wasted eggs in the United States is more than $440 million annually.

FFAR and Open Philanthropy joined forces to offer up to $6 million in grants and prizes to the firm, group, or individual who successfully develops technology that can accurately and rapidly determine a chick’s sex as early as possible during the egg production process.

The six Phase I finalists of the Egg-Tech Prize, who received seed funding to help the Research Team move ideas from concept into design, are SensIT Ventures, KU Leuven, Microscale Devices, the USDA Agricultural Research Services (ARS), the University of Minnesota and ORBEM. The finalists concept designed used 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.

“We thought we knew what was possible, but we were blown away by the depth and creativity of the submissions for the Phase I Egg-Tech Prize,” Goldberg said.

Phase II of the Egg-Tech Prize

The next phase of the program will ask submissions to demonstrate a working prototype that can accurately identify a chick’s sex as early as possible in the egg production process.

Participation of Phase I is not necessary for a Research Team to move to the next phase. FFAR will open submissions for Phase II of the Egg-Tech Prize in spring of 2021.

Winners of the prize will be awarded up to $6 million in grants and prices.

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