Stories: Israeli biotech EggXYt wins start-up prize in Tel Aviv
Saving billions of male chicks from disappearance each year turned out to be a hot topic at Agrivest 2019 in Tel Aviv. EggXYt has developed technology that can detect their gender before hatching, saving the egg industry nearly $2 billion per year. This solution is answering to the demands of conscious egg consumers and won the Best Israeli Agtech Company Competition.
Here’s the problem in an eggshell: Commercial hatcheries around the world produce 15 billion chicks each year. Approximately half are females that can lay eggs, and half are males that have no commercial use and are therefore crushed or suffocated to death after hatching. In addition to the suffering and abuse, this practice wastes energy, water, incubation space and production capacity.
EggXYt seeks to save the industry hundreds of millions of dollars annually by eliminating the need to waste half of the hatching capacity and pay workers to identify and kill male chicks. The non-incubated male eggs could instead be sent to the food market, helping to avert a global egg shortage. The multiple award-winning startup’s technology enables sex detection of chick embryos immediately after the eggs are laid and before they enter the 21-day incubation process.
“These birds will be hatched to their death. This a man-made problem which started hundreds of years ago when humans started selecting eggs for consumption,” said Yehuda Elram, co-founder and CEO of eggXYt, during an interview to the journal The Times of Israel.
The killing of male chicks, known as chick culling, is standard practice in all industrialized hatcheries and has haunted animal rights organizations and egg producers for many years, added the CEO. Elram, the grandchild of chicken farmers, had been practicing law for more than 20 years when the idea came to him and his good friend Dani Offen, a scientist who is co-founder and chief scientific officer of EggXYt, to distinguish between the eggs using CRISPR, a gene-editing tool.
“What we are doing is 100 percent safe. A similar technology has already been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in case of salmon which is being sold in North America,” explained.
EggXYt has received several grants and awards from the Israel Innovation Authority, MassChallenge, the Green Impact Summit and TechCrunch Disrupt. The project has received a Phase 1 and Phase 2 grant from the EIC SME Instrument program in 2017 and 2018. The total Phase 2 grant amount is 2.3M€.