SomaDetect closes $2.6 million CAD seed round for dairy farming sensor technology


Fredericton-based SomaDetect, which has developed a sensor that helps farmers measure milk quality, has completed a $2.6 million CAD ($2 million USD) seed round.

SomaDetect is currently working to build deep learning algorithms into its sensor technology.

The round included investments from New Brunswick Innovation Foundation (NBIF), the Western New York Impact Investment Fund (WNYIIF), and New York Ventures. The startup will use the funds to expand as it works with dairy farmers and industry partners in North America to enhance and scale its technology using algorithms.

“We are incredibly excited and honoured to receive this investment from WNYIIF, NBIF, New York Ventures, and all of our investors,” said Bethany Deshpande, CEO of SomaDetect. “Our company is growing and advancing thanks to their support, and strong support from the dairy industry. Their investment will help build and grow our company as we expand to collect thousands of data points from farms in North America. It will help us build algorithms that matter for dairy farmers.”

Founded in 2016, SomaDetect has developed an in-line sensor that, when combined with deep learning algorithms and visualization software, measures key indicators of milk quality and health, including fat, protein, somatic cell counts, and progesterone.

The company won $1 million USD at the Buffalo, New York-based 43North competition in 2017 and opened an office in Buffalo. It also placed first at the Fierce Founders pitch competition in 2017, and received the ​Disruptor Award at the 2019 Volta Ecosystem Impact Awards. Previous investors in SomaDetect include Cavallo Ventures, Dairy Farmers of America, Builders VC, and iGan Partners.

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“For generations, dairy farming has been an important and integral business in all eight counties of Western New York and our dairy farmers have been struggling,” said Thomas P. Quinn, CEO of WNYIIF. “SomaDetect’s ground-breaking technology can provide dairy farmers with crucial data to increase productivity for the benefit of farmers today and for years to come.”

Since its founding, SomaDetect has grown to 25 employees and last year, the startup launched its first sensor prototype version, which has been installed in 12 pilot farms in Ontario, New York State, and Atlantic Canada. SomaDetect is currently working with dairy farmers and industry partners in North America to enhance the sensor technology and build deep learning algorithms to provide dairy farmers with actionable data to help manage their operations, including several aspects of milk quality and herd health.

“SomaDetect is a local success story. The fact that they’ve attracted attention plus investment from American venture capitalists are both indicators of continued growth,” said Thomas Bird, an investment associate at NBIF. “They were a runner up in our BreakThru competition in 2017, so seeing their continued success is a win for us. Starting out in a small business plan competition and evolving into a successful company where their trajectory continues to grow is very impressive.”

Image courtesy SomaDetect

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle is a Vancouver-based writer with 5+ years of experience in communications and journalism and a lifelong passion for telling stories. For over two years, she has reported on all sides of the Canadian startup ecosystem, from landmark venture deals to public policy, telling the stories of the founders putting Canadian tech on the map.

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