Imagine a world where cutting-edge AI technology can scan an egg in just one second, revolutionizing the poultry industry. That’s exactly what Munich-based startup Orbem has achieved with their innovative MRI-based system. By combining an industrial MRI scanner with an AI-based platform, Orbem has developed a contactless and non-invasive method for determining the gender of an egg. This breakthrough has not only eliminated the need for wasteful culling practices but has also propelled Orbem into profitability, with 20 million eggs already scanned. Their success has attracted a €30 million ($31.8 million) Series A funding round, signaling the immense potential of their MRI+AI technology. But Orbem isn’t planning to stop there. With the ability to scan other biological samples, including the human body, the marriage of MRI and AI is set to revolutionize the medical imaging industry in the coming years. With over 710,000 “AI for MRI” patents filed and granted in the last three years, and a potential market worth $29.8 billion by 2032, it’s clear that Orbem is just the beginning of an AI-driven MRI revolution.
AI revolutionizing MRI scans — a Munich startup banked $32M to scan eggs, and says humans are next
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The revolution of artificial intelligence (AI) in the medical field is now extending to the MRI scanning process. One Munich-based startup, Orbem, has raised a significant amount of funding to develop a groundbreaking AI-based platform that can scan eggs to determine their gender. The technology has the potential to replace the traditional method of culling male day-old chicks and may also be applied to human MRI scans in the future. This article explores the background, challenges, and solution in egg scanning, as well as Orbem’s funding, growth, and expansion to other industries. It also highlights the emerging trend of AI and MRI, the market potential for AI in medical imaging, and expert insights on the future outlook.
Countries such as Germany, France, and Italy have enacted laws to prohibit the culling of male day-old chicks. This practice was considered wasteful, unethical, and contrary to animal welfare concerns. These laws have encouraged tech companies to develop technologies that can determine the gender of chicks before they hatch. One such technology, hyperspectral imaging, accurately detects the gender of chicks based on plumage color on day 13 of incubation. The commercial hatchery industry has already adopted a fully automated system called “CHEGGY” that utilizes hyperspectral imaging to detect various aspects of eggs, including gender. However, the process of gender determination using this system is slow.
Current Challenges in Egg Scanning
The slow pace of hyperspectral imaging-based gender determination in eggs is a significant challenge in the commercial hatchery industry. Orbem recognized this problem and aimed to develop a solution that could speed up the process while maintaining accuracy.
Orbem, born out of PhD research into MRI technology, sought to combine an industrial MRI scanner with an AI-based platform to determine the sex of eggs in a contactless and non-invasive manner. This innovative solution enables hatcheries to scan an egg in just one second, significantly faster than existing processes. Orbem claims to have successfully scanned 20 million eggs and has achieved profitability. By utilizing MRI technology and AI, Orbem has revolutionized the egg scanning process and offers a more efficient and accurate method for gender determination.
Funding and Growth
To further develop and expand its technology, Orbem recently secured €30 million ($31.8 million) in a Series A funding round led by 83North. Other participants included new investor La Famiglia and existing investors The Venture Collective and Possible Ventures. Prior to this funding round, Orbem had raised €10 million, with a portion of it coming from equity-free sources such as research grants from the European Union and the German government. The founders of Orbem met while pursuing their PhDs at the Technical University of Munich and decided to spin off the startup from the institution.
Expansion to Other Industries
Although Orbem initially focused on the poultry industry due to its multiple problems and regulatory changes, the startup plans to expand its technology to other industries. For example, they see potential in using their product to scan nuts, allowing for the detection of parasites or grading the nuts inside the shell, which could enable dynamic pricing. Orbem’s technology also has the capability to scan other biological samples such as plant species and even the human body. In fact, MRI scans of construction materials could ensure structural integrity in biodegradable materials. Orbem’s solution demonstrates the potential of MRI and AI in various industries beyond egg scanning.
Emerging Trend of AI and MRI
The marriage of AI and MRI is gaining popularity and has become a trend to watch in the coming years. GlobalData reported over 710,000 “AI for MRI” patents filed and granted in the medical devices industry within the past three years. The AI in medical imaging market is projected to be worth $29.8 billion globally by 2032, according to Allied Market Research. Additionally, AI is increasingly being used to improve human MRI scans, replacing less effective and invasive methods. This trend indicates the significant impact and potential of AI in revolutionizing MRI scans across various applications.
The market potential for AI in medical imaging is substantial. With a projected value of $29.8 billion globally by 2032, it presents numerous opportunities for AI and MRI startups. The application of AI in MRI scans not only improves efficiency and accuracy but also opens doors for new advancements in medical imaging technology. The demand for AI-driven solutions in the medical field is expected to increase in the coming years, as evidenced by the rising number of patents and market projections.
Oliver Schoppe, a principal at UVC Partners familiar with Orbem, emphasized the importance and potential of AI in MRI. He acknowledged that while AI may be considered overhyped from a VC perspective, there is substantial substance behind it. He specifically commended Orbem for its sustainable competitive differentiation, highlighting the startup’s strong technical vertical integration down to the hardware of MRI. This expert insight underscores the promising future for AI and MRI and the unique position Orbem holds in the market.
The future of AI revolutionizing MRI scans looks promising. With Orbem’s success in scanning eggs and achieving profitability, there is great potential for the application of AI in other industries, including the medical field. The combination of AI and MRI offers improved efficiency, accuracy, and non-invasiveness in scanning processes. As the demand for AI-driven solutions in medical imaging continues to grow, we can expect more startups focusing on AI and MRI to emerge in the near future. The ongoing advancements in AI and MRI technology will likely shape the future of medical imaging and contribute to significant developments in various industries.