Soos wins Grow-NY competition US$1 million grand prize

03-12-2020 | | |
Photo: Jordan Kastrinsky, Soos
Photo: Jordan Kastrinsky, Soos

Soos has won the US$1 million grand prize of the Grow-NY competition. The Israeli start-up developed a technique to alter the sex of embryos in-ovo.

The win was announced by Governor Andrew Cuomo (New York). Grow-NY is a global food and agriculture competition founded by Empire State Development and Cornell university, attracting applications from 264 companies based in 27 different companies this year alone.

Each finalist was mentored by a hand-selected regional business advisor, and the top-20 finalists competed in a virtual pitch competition. Competitors were judged on 5 criteria, namely:

  • Viability of commercialisation and business model proposition;
  • Customer value;
  • Food and agriculture innovation;
  • Regional job creation;
  • Team.

Jenn Smith, Program Director of Grow-NY, said: “We had a diverse group of innovative entrepreneurs from around the world this year and the competition was fierce. The business plans we heard last week represented 20 ideas, any of which could transform the food, beverage and agriculture industry, and create opportunity in Upstate New York,”

Soos has developed artificial intelligence-driven software that controls customised incubation cells to affect the sex development process in chicken embryos, resulting in more functioning female layers. Their patented technology not only addresses concerns about animal welfare, but also taps into the missed potential of the egg industry, as egg-sexing still involves the destruction of 50% of the production. Soos uses high-tech soundwaves and vibrations – a non-invasive and non-chemical solution – to transform the male embryos into egg-laying females. So far, Soos has achieved a 60% female hatching rate, a figure they hope to increase to 80% in the coming years.

Sex reassignment in the egg
Israeli start-up Soos has developed a technique to alter the sex of embryos from male to female in the hatchery and thus tackle the culling of male chicks.

On winning the Grow-NY grand prize, Soos CEO & co-founder Yael Alter said: “With our Grow-NY prize money, we plan to establish the New York Poultry Research Hub in the coming months, which will connect academic research with poultry start-ups and corporates, to commercialise validated research. We are thrilled to put down roots in the Grow-NY region.”

Alon Gozlan, Soos’s Business Development VP, added: “Grow-NY is a tremendous opportunity for food and ag start-ups. The Grow-NY team had a tough challenge with Covid-19 and having the whole competition run on remote, but they did an excellent job and made us feel like we were in New York for the past 3 months. Our mentor, Brad Gouldthorpe, not only paved the way for us to win the grand-prize, but truly developed our business plan with introductions to the right people in the Grow-NY region. We were connected to poultry industry executives, academic researchers, and economic developers in the region. We are extremely excited for the journey ahead in New York.”

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Rebecca Kwakman Content manager