Ramin Karimpour – Applied LifeSciences & Systems
Globally we eat 73 billion chickens annually and that number is expected to double by 2050. ALS-S has
created a biodevice now in research that improves the effectiveness of poultry vaccinations, in the
process decreasing the use of antibiotics and generally improving the quality of the flock. The ALS-S
system can vaccinate 100,000 chicks per hour in the first 24 hours of life. Imagine!
Russ: Hi I’m Russ Capper and this is BusinessMakers USA, brought to you by Insperity, inspiring
business performance. Checking in today from the Research Triangle in North Carolina and I’m very
pleased to have as my guest Ramin Karimpour, the CEO of Applied LifeSciences & Systems mainly
focused on poultry productivity. Do I have that right?
Ramin: Yes you got it right.
Russ: Welcome to the show.
Ramin: Thank you.
Russ: Tell us about Applied LifeSciences & Systems.
Ramin: Applied LifeSciences & Systems is a bio device R & D entity at the present time.
Russ: So it’s in Research and Development.
Ramin: At the present time, and we have the counterpoint of having a proof of concept machine that shows the fact that we can actually individually vaccinate day born chickens. So day one, right out of the egg they go through our machine and they can get vaccinated.
Russ: Are they vaccinated today?
Ramin: Up to a point yes. In majority of the vaccinations that are done today in some cases is mass sprayers that are used currently, which are affective about 70% to 90% of the time. However that leaves that 10% to 30% of the time that the chicks are not vaccinated and that by itself is harmful to the whole chick production because of the fact that those who are vaccinated can negatively impact those who are not vaccinated. Some cases and with regard to some diseases producers actually stopped vaccinating because of the fact that those who are vaccinated can actually give the sickness to those who are not vaccinated.
Russ: Okay, and based on our discussion earlier I don’t know how many in our audience realize how much production, particularly of chickens, is done these days; it’s more like a factory process. You shared with me worldwide today the population consumes 73 billion chickens per year, right?
Ramin: That’s true, that’s true.
Russ: And so even on this example here where some are not vaccinated and they’re not healthy and they sort of fall out of the production, a 20% to 30% loss in the production would be catastrophic.
Ramin: That’s true.
Russ: Prices would be high and the availability would be real low.
Russ: Also based on our conversation before another part of the problem is the fact that our population and maybe some in medicine are asking us to start moving away from feeding them antibiotics.
Russ: Talk about that.
Ramin: So it has been going on and it has started this movement of antibiotic-free protein production; it’s not only about chickens, it’s about beef and swine and every other protein we eat and actually the reduction of any kind of chemicals used in our food chain. Which is a great move because what it does is that basically makes our food much safer for human consumption, the only side effect is really the big impact on production with regard to the fact that of course just like us chicks do get sick; beef, cattle get sick and all other animals do get sick. And there are viruses and there are also poisons and other kind of pathogens out there that impact the livelihood of protein animals to be consumed. So without antibiotics and other drugs we have to do something or lose a good percentage of production
Russ: And what’s also interesting about your endeavor is that you’ve received some fairly significant awards and grants to help fund these. You’ve got partnerships with some big food production people who love what you’re doing because here’s a guy that’s coming up with a solution to this problem, correct?
Ramin: True. This is one of the advantages that we have compared to other starting off looking for capital; we are not a solution looking for a problem, we have a solution for a very big problem. And very early stage when we started the company in 2015, early 2016, we went to a number of pharma companies who do produce the vaccines and we got a lot of interest from them, which we have at the present time made a strategic partnership with Merck Animal Health. And we also have had support from the number one producers of poultry in the grants that we have received from the National Science Foundation and the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, which is a non-government entity trying to basically improve food sustainability across the United States. So we have been blessed with that in the last 2 years.
Russ: Well congratulations.
Ramin: Thank you, thank you.
Russ: So it’s interesting, you say the pharma companies – the people that produce the vaccine – they knew this is what we need but just the sheer logistics on the volume of poultry produced is almost more than anybody can imagine, but as you started off our interview you have invented a machine that has a process to it that can do this expeditiously.
Ramin: Yes, our machine and our claim to fame right now is that we can actually process 100,000 day old chicks, basically under first day of life; individually handle them and individually vaccinate them and individually deliver them to the farm.
Russ: At what rate?
Ramin: 100,000 chicks per hour.
Russ: Per hour, wow. Now have you built a prototype yet?
Ramin: Yes, we have. We actually have and we have actually run it at half speed so we have been able to prove that it can easily be done at 60,000 chicks per hour. But that was the proof of concept prototype and we are working expeditiously on trying to make what I call a commercially viable system that we are going to soon, with help of our partners, take to the farm and to the hatcheries and actually vaccinate.
Russ: How big will it be?
Ramin: It will be long and big because the room is there or them in the facilities of the hatcheries. So it will be somewhere about 20 feet long machine by about 8 feet wide and it can be as high as 6 feet tall. It’s going to be a machine and the beauty of it is it is a marriage of a number of technologies. I usually start by saying what does artificial intelligence, high speed imaging and microfluidics have to do with chickens. And the majority of people don’t have an answer for that and quite frankly that’s where we come in. We bring all of these technologies together in one system and target a particular parts of the chicken’s features to deliver the vaccine safe and sound with the chicks basically happily going on their way to the farm all vaccinated without even knowing.
The most important part that we play is that if you immunize the chicks right up then there is no need for any drugs because they just don’ get sick; they’re immunized. They go through this whole process and you have much higher productivity and a the same time much better sustainability because you’re not going to waste all the resources on the 10% to 15% to 30% that are going to just go out of the cycle after all the investment has been made on them. And by the way don’t forget by 2050 we are going to be consuming two times more chicken if the population growth continues as is and that means about 150 billion chickens a year. So if we save 10% to 15% of the chickens that means we have helped the world in sustainability of billions of chickens.
Russ: So fascinating. So before I let you go too I know that doing what you do has interested you in some other categories of food production that you think also need vaccination, which is?
Ramin: Which is in particular aquaculture.
Ramin: Today the majority of the fish that we consume – not the majority but somewhere about 50% of them – come from fish farms and one of the reasons we pay so much money for fish is because of the fact that the majority of the fish – actually a good portion of them – through the cycle catch disease and pass away which means they cannot be consumed. As a result, like Salmon that takes almost 18 months for it to go from a little fish to a consumable sized fish, every time a fish is sick in that tank the majority of the fish will be condemned and will have to be thrown away. Currently it’s very hard, how do you vaccinate a little fish?
Russ: Do you have a way?
Ramin: Yes we have a way and we are actually going to do it in the water. There are other machines that do this currently; they’re expensive and they actually cause somewhere between 6% to 12% death of the fish.
Russ: They kill them?
Ramin: They kill them at the same time. Ours is going to be – because take them out of the water and then put them back in the water – ours is going to be done in the water. We have patented the topology of the system we want. We are focused right now on poultry, then we will attack the fish – aquaculture business.
Russ: All right, fascinating story. I wish you success.
Ramin: I thank you very much for the opportunity.
Russ: It’s a huge problem, we need that success to be able to continue on.
Ramin: I thank you very much.
Russ: Thanks for being on, you bet. And that wraps up my discussion with Ramin Karimpour with Applied LifeSciences & Systems and this is BusinessMakers USA.