Revolutionizing cattle breeding
SpermVital extends the life of semen after insemination, increasing conception rates
Achieving a good conception rate is vital to farm profitability, particularly in herds that are block calving, encouraging all of the cows to calve around the same time. Luckily a new tool to help boost conception rates is now available and proving popular: Norwegian company SpermVital’s new technology makes the sperm live longer after insemination and has resulted in impressive improvements.
The technology makes the timing of insemination less critical as the semen lasts an extra 24 hours after insemination. The sperm cells are immobilized in a neutral substance before freezing. This immobilization preserves energy and enables the controlled release of sperm cells in the uterus after insemination. Conception rates for conventional black and white herds are typically 35 percent. With this new technology, rates are up to 60 percent or better.
The startup was founded by the Norwegian company Geno—with a daughter company in the U.S.—and the SINTEF Group in 2008. Geno and Elisabeth Kommisrud, a professor at the University College and Research and Development Manager at the startup, started working on the research behind the technology back in 2003. The patent application was submitted in 2006.
The first field trial pilot on Norwegian Red Cows took place in 2009, and the technology was launched in the market in 2010. The technology went on to be launched in Italy, Holland, UK, Poland, Switzerland, Spain, Austria, and Croatia, and the patent is awarded in over 40 countries. Masterrind, the largest bovine breeding company in Germany with total sales of three million doses each year, recently said they would launch the Norwegian SpermVital technology in August.
Artificial insemination of domestic animals was invented as early as the 1700s. Only with the advent of successful cryopreservation of sperm in the 20th century did the technology transform modern domestic animal breeding, however. Most of the research efforts since then have focused on improving the survival of fresh and frozen semen. The SpermVital technology adds another dimension by extending the life of sperm after insemination.
Today the company is located at the Høyskolen Innlandet in Hamar and has 20 employees. The profitability is very good: revenue last year reached over NOK 16 million.
Each year, 220 million inseminations take place globally, so there is a lot of optimism at the startup. The product costs only about USD 15 extra. And it is assuring to know that Sales and Marketing Manager Henriette Kise received her master’s degree in Marketing from Auburn University in Montgomery, Alabama, and has many years of experience from the field in America!
Rasmus Falck is a strong innovation and entrepreneurship advocate. The author of “What do the best do better” and “The board of directors as a resource in SME,” he received his masters degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He currently lives in Oslo, Norway.
This article originally appeared in the July 14, 2017, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.