The funding also will support additional development of the algorithms used in the company’s dairy analysis technology and efforts to build a commercial version of the sensor, said Bethany Deshpande, SomaDetect CEO.
“These are two specific components required for our business to be able to be commercially ready,” she told FeedNavigator. “We are already so excited about what we've accomplished with the sensors installed on farm today and are thrilled to continue this work with such strong support from investors and our farming community.”
SomaDetect technology uses a sensor installed in the milking line, deep-learning algorithms and visualization programs to analyze milk components and provide information about cow health and milk elements, like fat, protein, somatic cell counts and progesterone, according to company information.
However, the analysis system does not alter milk samples or require the use of chemical or consumable elements, according to company information. Instead, the sensor uses a beam of light to take a snapshot of the raw milk and measure compounds or components.
Information gathered can then be used to provide insights for producers, including on the influence of ration elements, according to company information.
Currently, development is focused on algorithms used to identify and track progesterone to provide information on the reproductive state of the cow, said Deshpande. Adding, “This algorithm we are currently working on will help producer answer whether a cow is pregnant or not.”
“Soon we will be working more on dairy component models, especially SCC [somatic cell count], and heat,” she said.
Funding support and development
Funding in the seed round came through investments from New Brunswick Innovation Foundation (NBIF), New York Ventures and the Western New York Impact Investment Fund (WNYIIF), according to company information. Previously, SomaDetech received support from Dairy Farmers of America, Cavallo Ventures, Builders VC and iGan Partners.
“For generations, dairy farming has been an important and integral business in all eight counties of Western New York and our dairy farmers have been struggling,” said Thomas Quinn, CEO of WNYIIF. “SomaDetect’s ground-breaking technology can provide dairy farmers with crucial data to increase productivity.”
Following the funding round completion, development work is taking precedence, said Deshpande. “We are getting ready to build algorithms and test our whole system: from sensor to AI platform to our front-end software and demonstrate the value of our technology for farmers,” she added.
SomaDetect has several large pilot project initiatives ongoing and the company is in the process of gathering thousands of data points from those pilot farms in North America, she said. The data captured can be used to develop the algorithms.
The company installed its prototype sensor unit on 12 pilot farms in Ontario, New York State and in Atlantic Canada last year to facilitate the data collection, the company reported.
The anticipation is that the sensor will see a commercial launch in 2020, said Deshpande.
SomaDetect also completed the Pearce Lyons Accelerator earlier this year and presented on use and development of the technology during One: the Alltech Ideas Conference.
The accelerator program provided perspective for the company regarding the questions and needs faced by members of the global dairy industry, Deshpande told us at that time. It also led to some of the on-farm pilot work being done in Ontario.