Swine Innovation Summit: Collaboration, Customer Demand & Technologies

( Geri Wohltman )

By Geri Wohltman, Farmweld

A collaborative thinktank spotlighting swine product advancements would best explain the first ever Swine Innovation Summit, presented this week in Indianapolis by the Pork Checkoff’s Science and Technology Department. The day-long session centered around the collaborative efforts with other agriculture, biology, science, engineering and technology companies to develop products that will benefit the U.S. pork industry. The Swine Innovation Summit was held prior to the Forbes Agtech Summit. 

Beth Bechdol from Agrinovus Indiana kicked off the morning by illustrating the steps that Indiana has taken to create an environment for government, private companies, universities, commodity groups and more to come together and work collectively. 

Consumer demand was a hot topic. With constantly changing fads, customer opinions and social media influencers, it is clear that if a company is chasing the current craze, the wave may be out of the picture before you have a product to take to market. 

Some emerging solutions that were presented include Livestock Water Recycling, which separates manure on the farm into liquid nutrients, potable water and solids. This provides a three-fold solution by decreasing odor, reducing manure hauling costs and recycling usable water. 

Another innovation comes from Ripe.io, which is a block chain technology that creates a digital food story, including tracking, traceability and quality messages. This is increasingly important as more customers are looking for source, production and process information on the food they are purchasing. 

Companies weren’t the only ones in the spotlight as two universities shared innovative research. The University of Vermont demonstrated video-gaming simulations to illustrate how human behavior around risk taking can make a disease become an epidemic or help stop further spread. 

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln previewed NUtrack Livestock Monitoring, which has the ability to track individual pigs in group housing while collecting individual pig data reflecting movement, time spent at the feeder and waterer, and more.

NUtech Ventures shared how university research can be commercialized and how the company facilitates that process, including applying for patents or other protection prior to a licensing agreement or contract is reached.

Startup businesses don’t always have the means to get in front of investors or their customer base quickly and inexpensively. SVG Ventures’ THRIVE has a business accelerator program that mentors, collaborates, creates connections and raises customer engagement. SVG Ventures chose five startup businesses that could impact the swine industry. They include TEICHOS, SWINETECH, BINSENTRY, HOGWASH and ProteoSense. Each company presented a five-minute elevator pitch and were then questioned by a panel as well as the audience. The products ranged from improving vaccine immunity, decreasing piglet crushing and reading feed bin levels via sensors to robotic barn washing and faster food pathogen testing.

This Shark Tank meets peer review board atmosphere created tangible excitement among participants over what these products and new technologies could do for pork production in the future.

For interested innovators, the THRIVE VI pitch deadline for new products and technologies is Oct. 31. More information can be found at www.thriveagrifood.com.

Pork producers are known for always seeking out advancements in technologies, processes and products. They don’t settle for the status quo. The Swine Innovation Summit provided an atmosphere where entities that may not have a wide knowledge of agriculture but are strong in IT, banking, education and other areas could connect with pork producers and cultivate an ecosystem that leads to advancements in the pig industry. 

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