Media Coverage

Merck, Mountain Group support series A of North Carolina vaccine tech start-up

Mar 26, 2019 - Animal Pharm
By Joseph Harvey

Applied LifeSciences & Systems (ALSS) has closed a series A round of equity financing worth $8 million.

The Raleigh, North Carolina-based start-up will use the investment to accelerate development of its automated and individualized poultry vaccination system.

ALSS combines proprietary high-speed imaging, feature recognition, artificial intelligence, robotics and microfluidics in "a system that can individually vaccinate up to 100,000 chicks per hour against diseases such as coccidiosis, infectious bronchitis and Newcastle disease".

The ALSS team features Jim Hutchins, Connie Sweet, Liz Turpin and Steve Wolfe – all of whom hold considerable experience, as part of Zoetis' R&D team.

ALSS noted: "The industry trend towards antibiotic-free production has led to producers' demand for novel solutions to improve health standards and vaccination procedures allowing for a similar level of productivity in the absence of antibiotics and other chemicals. ALSS is bringing advanced technology solutions to the industry to address this demand."

The round was co-led by Merck Animal Health Ventures and Mountain Group Partners. Oval Park Capital also participated in the round.

Stephen Murray – head of Merck Animal Health Ventures – stated: "Leveraging Merck Animal Health's knowledge of poultry vaccination processes, our investment with ALSS will enable the development of its innovative technology that has the potential to significantly increase vaccination rates and enhance poultry production for our customers."

Merck Animal Health Ventures is based in Madison, New Jersey. It focuses on unmet customer needs in animal health that align with Merck's core animal health businesses. However, the investment arm also targets deals that can help the company move into new markets.

The Merck venture division has previously supported Whisper, which is a company that has developed a veterinary stethoscope system for bovine respiratory disease, and Quantified Ag – a data analytics firm that has a digitized cattle ear tag; and Aqua Technology.

ALSS' other co-investor, Mountain Group Partners, features Rob Readnour as managing director. Dr Readnour has extensive experience in the animal health industry and recently explained the firm's investment philosophy to Animal Pharm.

Regarding the ALSS investment, Dr Readnour said: "As an investor, we look at consumer trends and consumers are demanding alternatives to the use of antibiotics to control disease. We believe ALSS will offer a great alternative to the use of these technologies to satisfy the needs of consumers and producers as well."

Reprinted with permission of Animal Pharm News




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