FREDERICTON– New Brunswick startup SomaDetect took home took home first place and a $1-million prize at the 43North competition last night in Buffalo, New York.
Founded in 2014 and based in Buffalo, New York, 43North is a program and competition for startups with more than $5-million in prizes.
The judges at last night’s finalist event awarded first prize to the Fredericton-based startup and its CEO Bethany Deshpande. David Jakubowski, a contest judge and director of publisher solutions at Facebook, told the Buffalo News that there was enormous potential for SomaDetect and Deshpande.
“They were so buttoned up. The way they articulated the value proposition of why it was good for people, why it was good for cows,” said Jakubowski. “She has the potential to be the biggest CEO in dairy.”
SomaDetect is an in-line sensor that measures critical indicators of dairy-quality from every cow at every milking. This allows farmers to find out if there are any issues or deficiencies with the milk early on, which could indicate that a cow is sick.
The win will allow SomaDetect to launch a pilot program to measure how well its device works next March. Deshpande told the Buffalo News around 50 New York dairy farmers have signed letters to potentially purchase the device and participate in the pilot. But she said the company would probably start with 10 farmers “and expand from there.”
If the trial goes well SomaDetect will start selling the devices commercially in May.
But the win comes with conditions. All winners must move a substantial portion of their business to Buffalo for at least one year. Deshpande said SomaDetect hopes to employ around 25 people next year, including engineers, developers, technicians and support staff.
“It makes a lot of sense for our company to be situated in Buffalo,” Deshpande told the Buffalo News. “The dairy industry doesn’t sit in Atlantic Canada. It sits in New York [state].”