Around the horn in Buffalo’s startup ecosystem …
SomaDetect announced that it has raised $6 million in Series A funding, an event which will help push the ag-tech startup into full commercialization.
SomaDetect won the $1 million grand prize in the 43North business competition in 2017, and it maintains about five employees here with an office in the Seneca One tower. The company has 21 employees overall and is headquartered in New Brunswick, Canada.
SomaDetect is working with a select group of early-adopter farms as it works out the kinks on its milk monitoring system, which is designed to give specific insight into the health and output of each dairy cow.
SomaDetect sensors cover about 7,000 cows today, a number that is expected to increase as the company hits the gas pedal on growth.
The gale-force winds of disruption from the Covid-19 pandemic have actually highlighted the importance of forward-thinking strategies on food safety, CEO Bethany Desphande said. That, in turn, has helped the company start more substantive conversations on the farm level.
“Progressive dairy farmers today are planning multiple generations into the future,” she said. “We are finding as we talk to folks at the farm level that they’ve gone from thinking of us as a solution for today to a piece of the puzzle for long-term decisions.”
SomaDetect reduced its workforce in Buffalo in the aftermath of Covid-19, but Desphande said the hub of talent here will remain an option for future hires. Mostly, though, SomaDetect is searching for talented employees with experience in the dairy industry, prioritizing talent over location.
“We’re in growth mode,” Desphande said. “We’re starting to take new orders and working with new customers who are interested in this technology.”
SomaDetect is one of four local startups to acknowledge growth-oriented rounds of funding this year. The others include Torch Labs ($25 million), Circuit Clinical ($7.5 million) and Ellicottville Greens ($1 million).