Engender Technologies is developing a revolutionary laser-based method for sexing livestock sperm, targeting the US$2 billion dairy artificial insemination industry. The Company has successfully concluded laboratory trials and is preparing for scaling commercialization.t
Recently, Engender has proven the efficacy of its prototype system, showing it is able to consistently sort sperm by sex to enrich X-chromosome bearing bull sperm cells.
There is an unmet market need in the international animal breeding industry for an affordable and effective sperm sex sorting product, notably in the dairy sector.
Sex sorting will sustainably accelerate genetic gain and improve cost efficiencies in large animal reproduction. The impact of this technology for the economics of the global dairy industry is huge says Engender founding scientist, Professor Cather Simpson.
“Our technology shows significant results with proof of sperm enrichment. Engender’s microfluidic chip prototype is doing what we wanted it to do. The end objective of this technology is to provide dairy farmers with increased genetic control over their herds. Access to a low-cost sex selection technology for dairy would enable farmers to breed off the top half of their herd to double the current rate of genetic gain.”
Engender’s technology uses lasers to perform a variety of functions that result in effectively sorting sperm by sex, while at the same time being gentle on the cells which helps preserve the sperm’s fertility. Having control over whether the calf will be born a male or female is extremely attractive to Artificial Insemination businesses and dairy farmers. Elite female calves bred for their dairying characteristics can be slotted into the production scheme, while male calves offer less utility to dairy farmers.
Engender believes its technology can be brought to market with low capital and low operating costs. Three of the world’s largest artificial insemination companies have signed option-to-license agreements. In 2016 Engender was named winner of the Ag-Tech Sector of the World Cup Tech Challenge in Silicon Valley, and one of the ‘Five Most Innovative Startups at Series A and Beyond’ by AgFunder.
In August, Engender’s first key patent was allowed in the US, and its patent attorneys have confidence that it will be granted in our other key markets. This will assist in future discussions with potential licensees, significant investors or acquirers. The company is also preparing a further eleven patent applications related to individual aspects of the technology. In combination with two complementary technologies already in-license from the University of California San Diego, these are expected to provide Engender with strong protection of its system.
Engender is now moving to scale up to full commercialization in the next 18 months.
“Engender has been building the skills, scientific insight and resource to ensure it can offer a sex-separation system at low cost and high sperm viability” says Brent Ogilvie, Engender’s CEO.
“This latest achievement is a strong foothold taking us even closer to meeting the real need for effective, affordable artificial insemination technology.”
Following this success, Engender has been recently profiled in several leading agricultural, dairying and agtech publications in the USA, including Forbes most recently.