Ag tech startup Verility closes $3.5 million Series A funding to grow its livestock fertility analysis platform
In 2021, the total world population was estimated to be around 7.88 billion people. By 2050, the number is expected to hit 10 billion which will result in a 70% increase in food demand. With billions of people to feed, there are also challenges of land and water to contend with.
The world needs to manage the water consumption needed to grow food. Additionally, as people become more conscious about eating healthy, more and more people now want to grow their own food in a more sustainable way. The solution to this demand must come from groundbreaking innovation and technologies that improve both crop and meat production efficiencies. That’s where today’s startup comes in.
Enter Verility, a central Indiana AgTech startup that is focused on disrupting and optimizing breeding and fertility in animal health by leveraging image recognition and proprietary algorithms in the global animal health breeding markets.
To further develop its livestock fertility analysis platform, Verility announced today it closed $3.5 million in a Series A funding round led by Mountain Group Partners of Nashville, Tennessee, with a previous investment from Purdue Foundry.
Led by co-founder and CEO Liane Hart, Verility has created a global platform called Fertile-EyezTM that provides fertility analysis products that enable livestock producers and breeders to accelerate reproductive performance. It provides accurate, simple, and cost-effective analysis to predict the ovulation phase and sperm quality at the point of care.
The company has licensed the intellectual property from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a nonprofit teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School, where it was originally created and validated in humans.
Hart said improving sperm analysis and improving ovulation detection for animal breeding are two of the most important ways to meet the critical need for more edible meat protein. She said the conception rate is known to be highly correlated with producer profitability and food sustainability.
“The Series A funding will allow us to develop our product for swine producers and breeders in a major segment of production,” she said. “The investment will allow us to reach the point of preparing for commercialization, which we anticipate in late 2023. It’s extremely exciting to have the ability to bring automated mobile breeding technologies into a segment of the animal health industry that normally does not see much innovation.”
Verility chief financial officer Brian Kopp said, “We are extremely pleased that more investment is finding its way into animal health innovation to bring more efficiency to animal production. We have a real opportunity to make a significant improvement in animal fertility, an area where more innovation is needed.”
Rob Readnour, managing director at Mountain Group Partners, said Verility complements the group’s investment portfolio. Its investment in Verility’s Series A funding round aligns with the group’s overall goals.
“Mountain Group Partners is excited to bring our expertise in animal health to help Verility develop the Fertile-Eyez technology to allow swine producers to be more productive through improved reproductive performance,” he said. “Producers are facing challenges from rising input costs and labor shortages only exasperated by the pandemic. They need innovation like Fertile-Eyez to help them meet the important mission of producing animal protein in a sustainable way.”
Hadi Shafiee, a faculty member at the Division of Engineering in Medicine and Renal Division of Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, said artificial intelligence-assistive tools will play an important role in the path toward transforming traditional agriculture to precision agriculture.
“The proprietary, AI-enabled, smartphone-based platform technology that my lab has created has broad applications in precision animal health and breeding,” he said. “This Series A funding will help us to commercialize our first AI-enabled product for accurate, affordable and real-time ovulation prediction in swine.”
Verility received $100,000 as one of two winners of the Purdue Ag-Celerator, an agriculture innovation fund, in January 2022. Riley Gibb, director of business development at Purdue Foundry, said the company is a strong example of startups that bring Purdue-supported innovations to the market.
Earlier this year, Futurology Life selected Verility as one of its top agriculture technology companies in Indiana. Hart recently participated in Purdue Foundry’s Women in Entrepreneurship Panel and AgriNovus Indiana’s Quadrant event for ag bioscience entrepreneurs.