In Ovo, a Dutch AgriTech innovator, has secured a significant €40 million loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB). This funding is set to catalyze the expansion of their pioneering technology, Ella, which promises to end the culling of male chicks in the poultry industry—a practice that has long been a contentious issue in terms of animal welfare and ethics.
The Technology: Ella and Eve
Ella is a fast and accurate in-ovo sexing technology that determines the sex of hatching eggs at an early stage. By enabling hatcheries to exclusively hatch female chicks, Ella eliminates the need for culling day-old male chicks, thereby enhancing animal welfare and reducing the environmental footprint of egg production.
In addition to Ella, In Ovo will also further develop Eve, an innovative sensor platform that optimizes the hatching process, leading to the production of more and healthier chicks.
The Impact of Male Chick Culling
Globally, an estimated 6.5 billion male chicks are culled each year because they do not lay eggs and are not suitable for meat production. This practice not only raises ethical concerns but also involves significant resource use and economic waste.
The Vision of In Ovo
In Ovo, co-founded by Wouter Bruins and Wil Stutterheim, began with a mission to address the ethical dilemma of culling day-old male chicks. With the support of Leiden University and the Leiden Bio Science Park, they have developed their flagship product, Ella, which produced gender-specific chicks in 2020, thus eliminating the need to cull male chicks.
The Role of the EIB and InvestEU
The EIB, backed by the InvestEU program, aims to support EU policy objectives through long-term financing. The InvestEU program is designed to mobilize over €372 billion in additional investments for EU policy priorities from 2021 to 2027. The EIB's support for In Ovo is a testament to the bank's commitment to fostering innovations that align with environmental sustainability and animal welfare.
Statements from Leadership
Wouter Bruins, founder of In Ovo, expressed his gratitude for the EIB's support, which will allow the company to become a global player in improving animal welfare across the food production spectrum. EIB Vice-President Kris Peeters commended In Ovo's technology as a significant advancement in animal welfare within the poultry sector. Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, emphasized the importance of maintaining high animal welfare standards in Europe, stating that Ella's technology is a major step in strengthening these standards across the EU.
In Ovo's €40 million loan from the EIB marks a transformative moment in the poultry industry. With the development and implementation of Ella and Eve, In Ovo is poised to make a profound impact on animal welfare and sustainability. This investment reflects a growing recognition of the need for ethical and environmentally conscious practices in food production, setting a new standard for the industry's future.