A revolutionary laser-based method for sexing livestock sperm has successfully concluded laboratory trials and is preparing for scaling commercialization with a $17 million capital raise.
New Zealand-based Engender Technologies 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. Sex sorting will sustain-ably accelerate genetic gain and improve cost efficiency 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 research shows significant results with proof of sperm enrichment,” says Professor Simpson. “Engender’s microfluidic chip prototype is doing what we wanted it to do. The end objective of this technology is to significantly increase the likelihood of female dairy cows and provide farmers greater genetic control over their herds.”
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 intrinsically gentle on the cells, thereby preserving the sperm’s fertility.
Engender is now moving to scale up to full commercialization in the next 18 months. Brent Ogilvie, Engender Managing Director, says the company has opened a $17M capital raise to take it through to product launch within two years.
Engender Technologies, Ltd., a university spin-off company funded initially by Pacific Channel and Auckland UniServices, commercializes ideas for using microfluidic and photonic technology to improve sorting of sperm by sex for the dairy industry. Engender’s technology will improve both efficiency of sorting and performance of sex-sorted sperm by avoiding electric fields and reducing shear stress on the sperm membrane during processing. All components have been proven in the lab, and the project has completed the last laboratory demonstration stage before commercialization. Engender recently signed option to license agreements with three of the world’s largest Artificial Insemination companies. In 2016 Engender raised NZ$4.5M in a Series A round of funding with a group of leading New Zealand investors including Pacific Channel, New Zealand Venture Investment Fund, ICE Angels, Enterprise Angels, AngelHQ, and Arc Angels. For more information:
Chief Scientist of Engender Professor Cather Simpson earned a Ph.D. in Medical Sciences at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. During her Ph.D. studies she became increasingly interested in understanding and exploiting the fundamental interactions of light with molecules. After a Department of Energy Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellowship at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, she joined Case Western Reserve University in 1997 to pursue this research. In 2007 Professor Simpson joined The University of Auckland in New Zealand to establish and direct a new multi-user Photon Factory to bring the rich versatility of high-tech, short laser pulses to academic and industry innovators.
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