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Leiden spin-off In Ovo awarded 2.5 million grant

Leiden biotech company In Ovo, a spin-off of Leiden University, has received a European Innovation Council Accelerator Pilot Grant. In Ovo will use this 2.5-million-euro grant in its mission to stop the culling of male chicks.

At present, newly hatched chicks are sorted manully according to sex. As the males cannot lay eggs, they are destroyed immediately after hatching. In the Netherlands alone, around 45 million male chicks are killed each year. Globally, this amounts to as many as 3.2 billion day-old male chicks. In Ovo has developed a method to determine the sex of a chicken embryo in the egg. Then male chicks will no longer need to be hatched only to be culled straight away, something that the poultry sector also sees as a major ethical problem.

In Ovo’s method determines the sex in the egg already, which will stop the culling of newly hatched male chicks.
In Ovo’s method determines the sex in the egg already, which will stop the culling of newly hatched male chicks.

Animal welfare and sustainability

The grant that In Ovo has received from the European Innovation Council is part of a programme that supports innovative companies. This focuses on high-risk, high-potential medium-sized companies that will use the grant to bring innovative new products to market and services that could drive economic growth.

‘This grant will help us speed up the development of our product and will have a massive positive impact on the poultry industry,’ says In Ov director Wouter Bruins. ‘This will allow us to drastically improve both animal welfare and sustainability in part of the food industry.’ The company is one of 72 companies to be awarded a grant from almost 4,000 that applied.

Spin-off during studies

Wouter Bruins and his colleague Wil Stutterheim started In Ovo during their studies in Leiden – Bruins was studying Biology and Stutterheim Biomedical Sciences. They still work closely with the University, among others with Thomas Hankemeier, Professor of Analytical Biosciences, and LACDR. Alongside their method to determine a chick’s sex in the egg, Bruins and Stutterheim are also working on other products to improve animal welfare in the poultry industry and make the sector more sustainable.

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