- Programme: Horizon Europe, EIC Accelerator Challenges “Green Deal Innovation for the Economic Recovery”
- Funding amount: EUR 2.45 million
- Funding period: 06/2022–11/2023
- Coordinator: Dr Pedro Gómez, Orbem GmbH
- Website: www.orbem.ai
EU Project Orbem Genus: Technology breakthrough using AI in chicken egg sexing
Every year, the poultry industry wastes 10 billion edible eggs worldwide and kills 7 billion male chicks. In order to abolish this unethical and very expensive procedure, it is necessary to determine the fertilisation status of the eggs before incubation and to determine the sex of the animals in the egg beforehand. With “Orbem Genus”, the EU is promoting the further development of imaging technology that facilitates precisely this.
In the modern poultry industry, two different types of chicken are bred: broilers for meat production and laying hens for egg production. In the case of broiler chickens, both male and female animals are reared. They put meat on particularly well and quickly, but have a poor fertility rate. Every year, billions of unfertilised but edible eggs are incubated in vain because their fertilisation status could not be ascertained before incubation. After the time in the incubator, these eggs are no longer suitable for sale and are disposed of. In the case of laying hens, the male chicks are unusable from an economic point of view, as they do not lay eggs or put a lot of meat on. By 2022, almost 45 million male chicks were killed in Germany each year. Since 2022, this unethical practice has been prohibited by law in Germany, but not throughout the EU. The animals can therefore be taken to other European countries for killing. In order to eliminate these shortcomings, it is necessary to determine the sex of the embryos in the egg beforehand.
Munich-based Orbem GmbH develops AI-supported imaging technology (MRI) that works automatically and without contact. For the poultry industry, Orbem offers a range of solutions for detecting the fertilisation status and sexing the chick embryo in the egg by the 12th day of incubation (before the sensation of pain develops). This means that the best decision can be made for each individual egg: is the egg suitable for breeding, egg production, chicken fattening or is it unfertilised and should it be marketed directly for consumption? This classification allows Orbem to open up new revenue streams for the poultry industry.
Road to success – From patenting the process to the "Champions League" of EU funding
Orbem is a deep tech startup founded in 2019 as a spinoff of the Technical University of Munich. The company has already received several awards for its technological innovation and its potential for global impact.
Since 2017, Bayerische Patentallianz GmbH (BayPAT) has accompanied the patenting process and the maintenance of the patents already granted to "Orbem Genus" and supported the company in marketing the invention as well as the resulting property rights.
The Bavarian Research Alliance (BayFOR) supported the Orbem managers in successfully applying for the extremely competitive European "EIC Accelerator" funding. The EIC Accelerator funding instrument is aimed exclusively at SMEs and start-ups with growth potential and helps them to develop concrete and high-risk innovations to market maturity. BayFOR advised Orbem 2021 on the preparation of its application and supported the company in preparing for the official presentation of its proposal to the EIC jury in Brussels. The Orbem solution not only has a positive impact on the factors of animal welfare and sustainability, but even increases productivity and reduces costs. Orbem is one of the 65 start-ups from all over Europe selected for funding by the "EIC Accelerator" in 2022. With the EU funds, the company aims to bring its "Genus" technology to market before the end of 2023.
"As a deep-tech start-up, it is crucial for us to protect our know-how and safeguard our hard research work. BayPAT's support in patenting and maintaining patents was crucial to successfully achieving this goal. We are also very grateful for the advice provided to us by the Bavarian Research Alliance (BayFOR). Their valuable input and expertise helped us to successfully prepare for the EIC Accelerator application."
Dr Pedro Gómez, Orbem GmbH
Dr. Pedro Gómez
Tel. +49 89 954597540