Recently, THRIVE II Canada Accelerator announced their latest cohort, which included six Calgary-based companies.
Thrive’s award-winning program accelerates sustainability, innovation, and technology across the industry. Companies were selected for their potential to disrupt traditional farming practices, promote industry sustainability, and reduce environmental impact while giving farmers the tools to increase yields and productivity.
Among them was OneCup AI, an agtech startup utilizing facial recognition technology on animals.
The company’s flagship product is BETSY, an AI-powered creation which consists of a small computing device and several cameras. Working onsite, BETSY is physically located where cattle gather, such as a watering hole, salt lick, or feeding station.
BETSY can track the health, growth, nutrition, activity, and phenotypes of a variety of species and breeds such as cattle, sheep, bison, pigs, goats, and dogs. She can also alert users to potential issues in real-time.
This type of assistance can take stress off of ranchers and other animal owners, OneCup believes.
“BETSY takes the initiative to notify the rancher by text and email if an urgent matter arises, such as a calving event or disease detection,” the company states online. Meanwhile, “BETSY uploads all her observations in the cloud, where they can be accessed for review, the entire historical dataset for individuals and herds.”
The data is rich for both individual animals—”At a granular level, every animal’s feature is readily accessible,” the startup says—as well as group trends, “providing a macro oversight of the performance of a herd’s operations.”
The camera-based cloud platform tracks disease indicators, such as coughing or limping, and various activity, from lying down to socializing. Food intake and output is also monitored, allowing “producers to determine optimal feed rations, cutting costs and optimizing feed schedules.”
Last year, the Alberta startup received an investment from Tall Grass Ventures, a local venture capital firm interested in the future of agriculture and food.
“Leveraging our deep industry knowledge, connectivity, experience and passion for agriculture, we support the transformational entrepreneurs who are changing our world’s relationship with its food, fuels and fibers,” says the VC firm, which is also an investor in ZILA Works, who has developed a patent pending, BPA-free bio-epoxy resin made from industrial hemp that it hopes will contribute to Canada’s clean tech economy.
Tall Grass Ventures believes that agriculture is at the centre of many of the biggest challenges facing the world.
Each of these challenges “present an opportunity for agriculture as a foundational industry to the domestic and global economy.”
“We realized that computer vision could be helpful,” they said of farming, with the tech functioning as “the Eyes of the Rancher” while the Rancher is busy or away.
Better than a replacement, it could even prove an upgrade.
“BETSY tracks animal growth to help ranchers increase their Return on Investment and maintain optimal animal health,” the startup states—a win-win for animal and owner.
Look for BETSY to make an appearance at this year’s South by Southwest conference in Texas. Thanks to Alberta Innovates, 50 high potential Alberta ventures will be making the trip, including OneCupAi.