LONDON, UK (March 19, 2015) - Leading animal health company Zoetis Inc. unveiled its Centre for Digital Innovation (CDI) at the House of Lords today. Opened in the heart of London's Tech City, the new Centre will create sophisticated digital products that enable data-driven decision-making to enhance precision farming and improve animal wellbeing for livestock and pets.
Hosted by Lord Trees, the event was introduced by Lord de Mauley and attended by industry representatives including the National Farmers Union and those with an interest in the success of UK farming, among them some of the large supermarket chains.
The production of high-quality food for an expanding population in a world of finite resources has put precision farming firmly on the Centre's agenda. The statistics are compelling: a global population increase of 30% between 1990 and 20102 has led to a greater demand for animal protein and need for productivity improvements; seven billion people worldwide consume protein as milk, meat, fish and eggs3; 40% of the global value of agricultural output is from the livestock sector 4 and 33% of arable land is dedicated to producing feed for livestock 5. Overlaid against this is a need for improved welfare standards and efficiency on a scale never before seen.
For agriculture, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) predicts that by 2020, the UK will have created and harnessed new knowledge and technology that will transform our ability to systematically predict, detect and understand key UK animal and health problems and emerging threats in real time. As a result, rapid responses can be made to prevent and mitigate impacts, thereby increasing effectiveness and efficiency within the agricultural ecosystem.
Within this strategy for connectivity Zoetis' target is to create a digital health record for every UK livestock animal to enable data-driven decision-making and precision farming. The first products in the digital pipeline include a new app that can detect and monitor information on a cow's lameness and a device that provides real-time monitoring of growth and weight gain in a pig herd using non-intrusive visual imaging.
For the pig industry, this non-invasive data capture mechanism allows data to be processed in seconds and uploaded into a web reporting tool. It monitors actual growth against predicted growth, recording the number of daily visits to the water and feed station by individual animals. It produces a weight distribution graph and pinpoints both under and over achievers in the growth stakes, recording key dimensions and accurate measurements of the animal's weight.
Lord de Mauley, Science Minister, comments: "I welcome this new investment which will add great value to UK capability in this area. It builds on the close relationship Zoetis already has with our universities and institutes including many Research and Development collaborations.
"Zoetis's decision to locate the Centre in the UK recognises the strength of our data sciences expertise and commitment to innovation including agricultural and biomedical science."
For pets, the use of personalised healthcare through advanced digital solutions could significantly improve wellbeing and enhance their interaction with their owners and vets. Zoetis has built a new digital ecosystem for vets that includes a mobile app – – to help better connect owners with their pet and vet.
The PetDialog app features a unique Quality of Life assessment produced by NewMetrica from technology developed by the University of Glasgow. Using psychometric methodology, the assessment measures and monitors the quality of life of the dog so that the owner and vet can gain a deeper insight into the animal's health and wellbeing, including the early detection of health issues, managing disease and measuring the impact of treatment. Just as is the case in human medicine, the device will facilitate the remote monitoring of conditions such as blood glucose monitoring for diabetic cats and dogs.
Ned Flaxman, CDI director, comments: "We believe that in this particular space, where technologies are advancing rapidly, the need for complimentary strategic partnerships is essential. Through our Alliances group we work actively in establishing the appropriate University and industry collaborations that will enable our CDI specialists to develop together the most comprehensive and valued digital solutions for our animals."