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SwineTech raises capital, innovates in the pork industry

SwineTech, a developer of Artificial Intelligence and sensor-based technologies intended to reduce the number of piglet deaths, secured $4.63 million in funding last month.

The funding’s purpose was to help the four-year old Cedar Rapids-based company generate revenue. SwineTech is responsible for developing technology which helps farmers reduce the number of pigs that die as a result of disease, lameness, starvation, and piglet crushing. Additionally, the company’s technology offers key management tools that enable clients to bridge the gap between producers and pigs. This helps ensure that every pork producer can provide optimal care and maximize their resources.

SwineTech was founded on the premise of improving on the three pillars of the pork industry: animal welfare, productivity, and sustainability. The company accomplishes this with their innovative product SmartGaurd®. SmartGaurd® prevents piglet deaths due to crushing  by the sow. So how does it work? After sensing that a piglet is in distress, the product harnesses AI to read data sensors and alert the sow to roll over or stand up through the use of vibration signals via the wearable device.

The vibration delivered is similar to that of a dog collar. In the event that the sow does not stand up, the product will alert the user via a handheld device or desktop. The wearable device features a 10-day battery life and can recharge in as little as six hours. Additionally, the SmartGaurd® panel enables the user to automate pen temperature heating.

SwineTech, formerly known as SwineGaurd, was founded by CEO Matthew Rooda, COO Abraham Espinoza, and VP of R&D John Rourke in 2015 and currently has about 20 employees. Matthew Rooda grew up in a family of pork producers and quickly gathered a good sense of work ethic. Through his daily life on the farm, he learned at a young age just how important thinking outside the box was to farm operations. He often witnessed innovations of his grandfather and father who sought solutions to benefit their operations on the farm.

In his pursuit of a degree in Genetics and Biotechnology at the University of Iowa, Rooda befriended Abraham Espinoza, a Computer Science and Engineering student. It wasn’t long after that the two began to gather research and received a grant of $1,500 to further pursue development of a solution to piglet crushing. Following the World Pork Expo in 2015, where they become even more convinced of a need for a solution, Rooda and Espinoza joined the Iowa Startup Accelerator where they partnered with John Rourke. Rourke helped the team develop an algorithm to detect the squeal of a piglet being crushed.

SwineTech has hinted at releasing SmartGaurd® Plus soon, which would allow for real-time monitoring, biometric analysis, and custom dashboards.

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