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Reporting period: 2016-11-01 to 2017-07-31

FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) states that global meat production and consumption is rising from 233 million tonnes (2000) to 300 million tonnes (2020) . In terms of meat demand, there will be stronger growth in consumption for pork and poultry in many developing countries. The increasing population and pork meat demand worldwide provide a huge market opportunity to satisfy social needs. In this way, higher fertility rates are required to increase pork farm production. This means that Artificial insemination (AI) centres need a quick and unbiased analysis system to boost production. AI success depends on several factors but the most critical issue is the quality semen determination because although the market offers a wide range of solutions, they are neither efficient nor practical. For that reason, the development of an automatized system to optimize sperm dose production that reduces analysis time and ensures the right level of semen quality, has become a necessity of farmers. ZoitechLab has developed a new system concept that responds to this demand.
SQS (Seminal Quality System) is a disruptive, innovative and compact advanced system for automated boar semen quality analysis. It analyses the 3 main fertility sperm parameters (viability, concentration and morphology) by fluorescence, and calculates automatically the extender volume and the amount of doses to be produced- in less than 2 minutes (we continue working on decreasing this value). The ease to use and the automatized process will enable AI-centres to produce doses with the guarantee of a high fecundation potential.
The work carried out during the first reporting period has focused on:

Regarding re-engineering and validation activities:
- The application developed to gather, analyse and represent the reports obtained from the SQS analyser have beed modified according to clients’ needs and its integration with the SQS Brain device.
- Improvements related to reduce the running time processing while the results are confidents have also be carried out (focus enhancement, optimization of morphological detections, motors movement optimization, optimization of number of fields captured.
- SQS kits: New formula improvements to optimize spermatozoa morphology structures detection.

Regarding scaling-up, manufacturing processes incorporate new fluorochrome tubes based on 96-well plates, pipetting robot, revisions and packaging improvements.

Regarding the exploitation and business development tasks, data protection (from clients, databases, etc.) has been studied and implemented.

Market forecasts have also been reviewd and updated, with special focus on Asian market (mainly China, Thailand and Vietnam), USA and Spain. Moreover, ZoitechLab is working currently in Mexico, Chile, Colombia and Brazil, given that they are markets with a high technological demand.

A thorough surveillance analysis and following of similar equipment has also been done along these months.

Also, as part of the first step on the market research, professional staff has been sent to the target markets to make the first demonstrations of the SQS a get end users' feedback.
The main objective of the Project is to overcome the existing barriers to launch into the market the SQS system, a breakthrough solution for the swine industry to upgrade farm production capacity increasing at least 15% efficiency in swine reproduction processes. SQS will become the ultimate technological tool for artificial reproduction and farming industry. The system under development contributes to solve the current problems of swine AI-centres, where semen analyses are performed. SQS has to do with the following characteristics and advantages:
- It does not need previous handling (sample dye and incubation), as it uses a pre-dye support for an easy and cheap identification. This enables the sample counter automatically.
- Motor platen automatized control, where the sample slip is hold, reducing workload, time, and avoiding data misinterpretation.
- Sample segmentation for cell properties identification and classification according to a pre-defined behaviour pattern.
- Simultaneous analysis of three different parameters: sperm concentration, morphology and viability on a single sample.
- Result visualization on a friendly environment and the possibility of obtaining and standardized report.
- The reports are stored on database automatized system, which enables specific data selection, data filtering, and improves the decision-making process. Moreover, it allows to store and share data with other systems on different locations.
- The automatic process enables to obtain repetitive and reliable results as these do not depend on the employee (observer).
- The process enables the analysis of samples in less than 2 minutes.
- The device does not require specific training or calibration.

The expected impact for SQS´s users are:
- Obtaining reliable and accurate results.
- Reducing workload on data input, and analysis.
- Reducing errors and misinterpretation of the results.
- Facilitating decision making
- Increase 15% efficiency in swine reproduction process (owed to the production of doses with high fecundation potential).
- Costs per year: 50% reduction in personal costs.

A thorough surveillance analysis and following of similar equipment has also been done along these months.
Besides, as part of the first step on the market research, professional staff has been sent to the target markets to make the first demonstrations of the SQS to get end users' feedback.
SQS features