At the moment, eggs are determined and scanned based on “Hyperspectral imaging, which accurately detects the gender of chicks based on plumage color on day 13 of incubation, is one such technology now being employed. A fully automated system called “CHEGGY” is one such system used in commercial hatcheries”. However, the problem with this technique is that it is slow and that is the problem here.

An industrial MRI scanner is combined with an AI-based platform, which enables hatcheries to determine the sex of an egg in a contactless and non-invasive manner. Orbem claims to be able to scan an egg in one second, much faster than existing processes. After scanning more than 20 million eggs, Orbem claims to have entered profitability but we don’t know its revenue figures yet. The company claims that it can “detect different aspects of eggs, like freshness, broken yolks and cracks in the shell, up to about 97% accuracy in some instances”.

Dr. Pedro Gómez, co-founder and CEO of Orbem, says, “poultry has had a ton of problems. They currently waste billions of eggs simply because they don’t know what’s inside, wasting unfertilized eggs or killing one-day-old males which is actually unethical and unsustainable. And there are regulations now stopping this. So that was the first reason. The second reason from a technology point of view was a demonstration that we can build these systems that are so fast, accessible and simple that they even work in a traditional industry like poultry.” UVC Partners’ Oliver Schoppe says, “AI is obviously a bit overheated from a VC perspective, but I see a lot of substance as well… In contrast to most startups out there, Orbem has a sustainable competitive differentiation: their strong technical vertical integration down to the hardware of MRI.”

It is worth noting that “Germany, France and Italy are among the countries which last year enacted laws to stop the practice of culling male day-old chicks, because, as they do not lay eggs, they are considered surplus to requirements. This was not just because of the waste created but also out of animal welfare and ethical considerations. The laws were literally designed to encourage tech companies to come up with ways to determine the gender of chicks before they hatch”, as per the report.