New Zealand based Engender has patented and developed a physics solution to a biological problem in which technology housed in a microfluidic chip forms a process that is expected to be faster, gentler and less expensive and less labour intensive than its only competitor.
The staggered deal provides Engender with US$250,000 of resources upfront to consolidate the microfluidic chip and conduct trials, plus a further potential US$1.5million of investment and resources to develop its unique technology to prototypes.
Engender’s founding scientist is University of Auckland Associate Professor of Physics and Chemistry, Cather Simpson, who will head shortly to the Northern Hemisphere to set up an Engender lab in the AI company.
“This is an enormous vote of confidence in Engender’s technology. From the prototype we’ve already developed, our team sees significant potential in its impact on the quality of dairy herds globally, and clearly our new investors see it too. With this calibre of financial backing and resource, we are well on track in our timeline to bring this technology to market.”
Professor Simpson will travel between the overseas lab and New Zealand to work with a world-leading team of AI experts to test and develop the technology she co-invented with her team.
“The main difference is that our technology applies photons, in the form of laser light, to sort the sperm cells of bulls by gender and ensure the female-bearing sperm are transferred to the straws to use for insemination. In combination with our novel microfluidic platform, it’s a very effective process with minimal impact on sperm viability.”
While artificial insemination is now the norm in the trillion dollar livestock market, there are only a handful of large breeding providers worldwide, two of which have a presence in New Zealand.
Charlie Crawford, is a Canterbury farmer who invested in Engender.
“Having a business with dairy grazers and dealing with a lot of dairy farmers, I know how this technology will absolutely take off when Engender reaches its objective,” he says.
Professor Simpson is due to depart for this next stage of development shortly, and a further capital raising for Engender will then commence to fund further development of the chip and a prototype sorting machine.