06-Apr-2021 - Evonik Industries AG

Evonik makes follow-on investment into In Ovo to support launch of gender-testing machine for eggs

Biotechnology start-up reaches commercialization stage for its technology

Evonik has made a follow-up investment in the biotechnology start-up In Ovo through its venture capital unit. The investment comes as the young company reaches the commercialization stage for its technology and is bringing its gender-testing machine for eggs to the market. Together with co-investor VisVires New Protein Capital, Evonik Venture Capital has provided several million euros in further funding. Evonik Venture Capital first invested in the Leiden, Netherlands-based company in 2018, providing support for a technology that helps solve one of the egg industry’s biggest ethical problems.

“In Ovo has reached a crucial milestone with the successful scaling up of its unique technology,” said Bernhard Mohr, head of Evonik Venture Capital. “Since we first invested and partnered with In Ovo in 2018, the ethical problem of culling chicks has gained attention and calls for a solution have become louder.”

The German government has now introduced legislation mandating that no chicks are culled after January 1, 2022. In Germany alone, an estimated 40 million day-old male chicks from laying-hen hatcheries are killed annually, and the global figure is thought to be about 6.5 billion. Poultry farms don’t rear the male animals because they can neither lay eggs nor grow sufficiently for meat production.

In Ovo developed a method for determining the sex in the egg that is particularly fast and reliable and can be readily integrated into the workflow of large hatcheries. In Ovo’s first gender typing machine has been screening eggs at high speed, in a commercial hatchery, since December. The first 150,000 chicks, which will produce more than 50 million eggs in their lifetime, have been hatched without any chick culling.

“With Evonik’s support, In Ovo is bringing its proven technology to the market at exactly the right time,” said Emmanuel Auer, head of Evonik’s Animal Nutrition business line. “The cooperation with In Ovo fosters animal protein supply to retail thus helping the stakeholders in the value chain to achieve their own goals for sustainability.”

Comparing technologies on the market, In Ovo is best placed to meet the demands for a combination of early testing and fast testing, which hatcheries need. In Ovo can identify the gender of eggs by day nine after incubation starts and is working towards earlier identification. The German government’s recent legislation foresees that as of 2024 testing for gender in the egg must occur no later than day six. Currently no technology on the market that can identify gender as early as this.

“We are continuously improving our technology on speed, accuracy and day of testing,” said Wouter Bruins, co-founder and one of the managing directors of In Ovo. “I’m confident that we are well placed to meet market and regulatory demands.”

In Ovo was founded in 2013 by Bruins, a biologist, and biomedical scientist Wil Stutterheim, who met at the University of Leiden. The technology is based on a biomarker identified by the founders. This allows the gender of chick embryos in the egg to be accurately determined during incubation. For this purpose, a tiny hole is made in the egg and resealed. A sample is taken and examined by mass spectrometry for the biomarker identified by In Ovo, which has been patented.

Facts, background information, dossiers
  • Evonik
  • investments
  • eggs
More about Evonik
  • News

    Evonik invests US$220 million in partnership with the U.S. Government to build new lipid production facility for mRNA-based therapies in the U.S.

    Evonik is building a new, highly flexible, global-scale production facility for pharmaceutical lipids in the United States. The new plant at Evonik’s Tippecanoe site in Lafayette, Indiana, will broadly position the Group for future growth in novel mRNA-based therapies beyond COVID-19 vaccin ... more

    Evonik Venture Capital invests in Laxxon

    Evonik Venture Capital has invested in Laxxon Medical. The Nevada, U.S.-based company has developed a 3D screen printing technology for the manufacture of structured tablets that enables the controlled release of active pharmaceutical ingredients over time. Multiple ingredients can also be ... more

    Evonik builds world's first industrial-scale production plant for rhamnolipids

    Evonik is investing a three-digit million-euro sum in the construction of a new production plant for bio-based and fully biodegradable rhamnolipids. The decision to build the plant follows a breakthrough in Evonik's research and development. Rhamnolipids are biosurfactants and serve as acti ... more

  • Companies

    Merck KGaA

    We are a vibrant science and technology company. Science is at the heart of everything we do. It drives the discoveries we make and the technologies we create. We make a positive difference to millions of people’s lives every day. Our constant curiosity and specialist approach drive o ... more

    Glatt Ingenieurtechnik GmbH

    From the idea to turnkey production, Glatt accompanies its customers along the entire value chain. The company has recognized the potential in life science plant construction and has consistently aligned its product and service portfolio to the requirements of the industry. Glatt Ingenieurt ... more