Oratel Diagnostics, LLC has developed a patented, single-use test (VACA) that uses visible colors to help dairy farmers determine the best time to inseminate their cows. Although VACA can increase the average conception rate for cows that have been artificially inseminated – and, therefore, increase profit margins for dairy farmers – the original version was complicated and time-consuming to perform.

Summary

The cost per cow of the VACA test is extremely low, especially when compared to the cost of artificial insemination. However, in order to be widely adopted, VACA also needed to be easier to use, have a longer shelf-life and be tested on a wider level.

In October of 2012 Dorothee Goldman, Chief Technology Officer at Oratel Diagnostics, attended a FuzeHub Solutions Forum at Cornell University to:

  • Investigate potential ways to make VACA easier to use
  • Connect with researchers who could help improve the shelf-life of the test
  • Find partners who could help turn VACA into a commercial product

Outcome

At the Solutions Forum, Dorothee Goldman met representatives from the Cornell Center for Materials Research (CCMR) and Nanobiotechnology Center (NBTC) at Cornell, which led to an opportunity for Oratel
Diagnostics to use NBTC’s state-of-the art facilities for a minimal fee and work with Dr. Uli Weisner to research ways to extend VACA’s shelf-life.

Although testing and research analysis is still underway, Oratel Diagnostics has already achieved quite a lot through the FuzeHub connection:

  • The VACA testing process, which originally was complicated and took 20 minutes to perform, is now a quick and easy-to-use test that can be performed in a single step.
  • The shelf-life of the test has been extended from two weeks to many months.
  • Due to the improvements made to the test, Oratel Diagnostics has been able to conduct large-scale field trials on 10 different commercial dairy farms through a USDA-sponsored Phase I SBIR grant.

These accomplishments will provide the basis for evaluating the commercial value of VACA and potentially lead to funding for further improvements in product design and scaling up for manufacture.

“I have been so impressed with CCMR and the outreach they have. We can have access to state-of-the-art facilities at minimal cost. As a result, we have been able to take a great concept and turn it into a viable commercial product. We would never be able to do this on our own.” –Dorothee Goldman, CTO, Oratel Diagnostics

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