OTTAWA — Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health, and Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, recently announced a $1 million investment in Bioimaging Research Solutions Inc., a small business based in Guelph, Ontario. The money is earmarked to continue the company’s work in developing cutting-edge technology to protect Canadian livestock from bovine tuberculosis and support market access for Canada’s beef and cattle exports. Bioimaging Research Solutions is developing an artificial intelligence system to improve the efficiency of disease surveillance activities in slaughter plants.
Bovine tuberculosis is a contagious bacterial disease of livestock that can result in production losses, barriers to market access and risks to both animal and public health. Current methodologies of detection are long and cumbersome, and there are no known automated tools to support surveillance efforts. Bioimaging Research Solutions will receive $1 million over 2 years to develop an automated surveillance tool that will scan cattle carcasses as they move along a slaughter line. Machine learning algorithms will be used to “teach” the automated system to differentiate between tissue of concern and healthy tissue. The automated tool will be able to make split-second decisions when assessing the tissue for detection of granulomas for bovine tuberculosis surveillance, helping inspectors check for signs of disease more efficiently.
Canada has made great strides towards eradicating bovine tuberculosis, and all provinces and territories are currently recognized as free from the disease in domestic livestock. Improvements to disease surveillance can help to maintain Canada’s status as free from bovine tuberculosis, thereby preserving market access opportunities. Ultimately, this innovation may support Canada’s efforts to detect animal diseases early, while maintaining Canada’s reputation as a supplier of safe and high quality livestock and livestock products to our current and future trading partners.
Bioimaging Research Solutions previously received $150,000 through the Innovative Solutions Canada program to develop a proof of concept as part of phase 1 of the “Detection of granulomas for tuberculosis surveillance” challenge. The company successfully completed phase 1 and this additional funding will support the development of a prototype as part of phase 2 of the challenge.