Israeli sterile mosquito co Senecio awarded $12m by EU

Mosquito

The sterile insect technique (SIT) company will use the funds to develop its sterile insect technique to combat mosquito borne diseases.

The European Commission has awarded Israeli sterile insect technique (SIT) company Senecio Robotics $12 million to combat mosquito borne diseases. Using artificial intelligence (AI), the company has developed a mobile automated mosquito factory for monitoring and control of the disease carrying insects. The $12 million includes equity and grant components.

SIT has been widely proven for many other insects like fruit flies, but mosquitoes pose a more daunting challenge because of their huge numbers. Senecio Robotics has deployed AI to tackle the task.

Senecio Robotics founder and CEO Hanan Lepek said, "The first step in addressing mosquitoes is the understanding of their abundance. To date, mosquitoes caught in traps were counted one by one and classified by experts. Senecio develops an AI-driven solution which automates key parts of the process, enabling interested parties to create a quick and accurate understanding of the local mosquito distribution. The solution also gained interest from agriculture companies interested in monitoring insects impacting agriculture.

He continues, "Next, comes the production of the sterile males, including automated larva feeding, counting and sorting. Within a few days, the larva evolves into pupae before turning into sterile male adult mosquitoes that can be released. Currently, both Senecio automated pupae sorter as well as AI based adult sex separators and packaging are being validated at partner sites within the US."

"We have been working hard in the last few years, and believe we have solved what is required for operators to start using SIT on a large scale. Our portfolio incorporates the entire gamut of the solution from monitoring and pooling (collection of dead mosquitoes testing for potential viruses), to production and release. This will be provided both as distinct modules to solve partners individual requirements or as a turnkey mosquito factory addressing the needs from end to end.

"We are already in discussions with selected health and local authorities as well as potential distributors who are all very excited about the technology. We are currently exploring locations to build a full working demo-site."

"Senecio sorting solution comprises vision systems to identify and extract adult females. At the exit of the factory, small vans will pick up the filled cartridges, ready for release in the city. The release technology was already invented in 2014, and tested in field trials in 2015, as well as having granted patents in multiple countries, both for van release, drone release, aircraft release and hand-held release. The release plan is managed by our mission planning algorithm, also an allowed patent, automatically integrating data imported from the monitoring solution."

"Partners can use their own sterilization method as we are indifferent to that, and can either use X-Ray, Wolbachia, IIT, RNAi, CRISPER, or any other option which works best for them.

"Our automated monitoring solution as well as Senecio second generation sorting and packaging is expected to be shipped to our partners by summer 2021, with the first complete end-to-end demo-site demonstrated before the end of next year. Regulatory work is already underway and has garnered positive feedback from the regulatory bodies, who are excited about having our technology deployed.

"Soon, our partners will be able to integrate any parts of the solution into their current process, ranging from automated monitoring or gender separation, to a full-blown robotic factory operated at their facility, with production capacity of millions per week supporting potential campaigns over entire communities. The solution will be provided at an initial set-up fee plus subscription over time, making the SIT affordable and accessible.

"This exciting milestone brings us closer to our bold vision of a world without mosquito born disease."

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on December 16, 2020

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2020

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