The Israeli early stage company, AI award winner, Senecio Ltd. develops a mobile automated mosquito factory for monitoring and control of mosquitoes.
Senecio Robotics Mosquito automated Identification & Pooling based on Artificial Intelligence models
With more than 2,000 early stage companies applying for the EU EIC Accelerator Pilot May cutoff, only 64 companies were selected, following an intense due diligence of the company, patent portfolio, market, team and technology. The blended investment includes both equity and grant components with the grant agreement recently signed.
With nearly 700 million people infected with a mosquito borne disease every year, as well as the increase in mosquito populations driven by a warming climate, it is a massive and growing challenge to fight them using only traditional approaches.
Senecio Robotics automates the most environmentally green solution ever invented for combating mosquitos, the sterile insect technique (SIT). While SIT has been widely proven for many hardy insects like Fruit Flies, it has only been done on relatively small scale with fragile mosquitos. Senecio has focused on overcoming the largest challenges for widespread mosquito SIT adoption, which requires automation to deal with the very large numbers.
According to founder and CEO, Hanan Lepek, "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."
According to Lepek, "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.
"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.
"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. "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." says CEO Hanan Lepek.
About the EU EIC Accelerator program
The EU's EIC Accelerator supports top-class innovators and high-potential small and medium-sized enterprises to help them develop and bring onto the market new innovative products, services and business models that could drive economic growth. The EIC Accelerator is for innovators with ground-breaking concepts that could shape new markets or disrupt existing ones in Europe and worldwide.
Senecio Robotics is a pioneer in developing automated solutions for the Sterile Insect Technique at scale. From automated production to sorting and release, Senecio leverages AI and automation to industrialize the most environmentally friendly solution ever developed for fighting mosquitoes and mosquito-borne diseases. Senecio won prestige awards since inception, including the BIRD Foundation program with its counterpart Dynamic Aviation from Virginia (2015), the Israeli Grand Challenge award by the offices of the Prime Minister and Economic Affairs (2018), the Israeli Innovation Authority Grant for innovative programs (2020), first prize for AI startups in Israel (2019) and third prize at the international innovation competition, life science track, China (2017) as well as participated at the prestige startup accelerator Creative Destruction Labs, Oxford (2020).
Senecio Robotics, is equipped already with over dozen pending patents, with allowance already in USA, Singapore, Australia, Europe, and others, holding the most comprehensive patent portfolio from trap monitoring and pooling to drones and vehicle release.
Senecio is backed by the following VC's:
Pamoja Capital is the investment company that manages the funds of the McCall MacBain family and those of the McCall MacBain Foundation and currently oversees approximately $1 billion of assets. The Company's mandate is to explore opportunities across a broad range of themes and industries and undertake investments that have a positive benefit for the world. The objectives are to undertake long-term and socially responsible investments. The McCall MacBain Foundation's mission is to improve the welfare of humanity by providing scholarships and other educational opportunities that nurture transformational leadership, and by investing in evidence-based strategies to address climate change, preserve our natural environment, and improve health outcomes.
Ocean Azul Partners is a Miami-based early-stage venture capital firm led by former operators and investors who are passionate about helping entrepreneurs bring innovative technology solutions to market. Ocean Azul invests primarily in the U.S. and Israel in B2B software and deep tech companies and works closely with their founders to help them grow their businesses and overcome challenges.