Silvia Janska Stories

Do you know the total cost of pet care over a 15-year period in the US (and I doubt its too different in the UK)? A recent poll which included over 1,200 respondents and 100 vets concluded that the overall cost of owning a pet can climb to over $55,000 for dogs and over £45,000 for cats. Or did you know that in certain parts of the US, the GenZ and Millennial generation, who now represent 63% of all pet owners, are 80% more likely to own a pet than have children? Or another new shocking and saddening statistic – that the NPS score of owning a pet (i.e. whether you would recommend owning a pet to a friend) is a saddening low of 37%?

These are the kind of trends and attitudes that I found out about at the annual Petcare Innovation Summit in Boston, which I recently attended on behalf of the Global Animal Health Network, who were a featured media partner. The Summit is a 2-day event organised by Kisaco Research which is held yearly, once in the US and once in Europe. It is cantered around petcare start-up companies having the opportunity to pitch their innovations. At this event, we heard pitches from 20 start-ups; 10 pitching in the Pet Wellness track and 10 pitching in the Pet Tech track.

Each start-up was allocated 5 minutes to present to a panel of esteemed judges, which was followed by a short Q&A session. What was interesting about this year’s start-ups, was that nearly ¼ of them were from outside the United States. The international companies, all with the desire to expand to the US; represented countries included Taiwan, Singapore, Denmark, Poland and the UK.

There were three key themes among the start-ups. First, was the increased number of companies offering services focused on rehoming pets and matching shelters with adopters. As ‘Covid puppies’ became popular, the veterinary industry rightly feared what might happen to all these pets after the pandemic, and here we are seeing how people are coming up with novel ways to help the situation. Second theme was around the emphasis of presentative solutions and at-home diagnostics for pets. Such as sequencing test to characterise tumours in dogs, and early detention of canine heart disease using serum biomarkers and AI modelling. A third theme was around pet enrichment and training due to the rising concerns pet owners have about their pet’s mental health. Innovation included a no-touch interactive treat dispenser and training device, a cat translator app, and a modern day training solution combining technology and expert guidance.

The winners for the Pet Tech track was HiPets telemedicine platform for the Audience Choice Award and Go Dogo’s pet enrichment device as the Innovation Showcase winner. The winners of the Pet Wellness track were Gentle Beast for Audience Choice and Bundle x Joy for Judge’s Choice. Below is a list of all of the stat-ups that pitched: 

PET TECH STARTUPS

Joyful Pets – online matching systems for fosters/adopters to pets needing rehoming
HiPets –  one stop shop telemedicine platform for pet parents and vets
PetPair – pet adoption marketplace that matches and transports animals from overcapacity shelters
Purrch – community platform for pet parents and pet services
Rescue Spot – mobile platform the streamlines the adoption process for adopters and rescues
MI:RNA – veterinary diagnostics company for early disease detection in pets and livestock
MeowTalk – cat translator app and platform
Vidium Animal Health – genomic diagnostic with a liquid biopsy test that screens for cancer in dogs
Expercy – orthopaedic treatment for minor fractures in companion animals
Go Dogo– pet enrichment device that dispenses treats and virtual trainings

PET WELLNESS STARTUPS

Jiminy’s – sustainable pet food made from crickets and other insects
Breed Science – epigenetic tests and products that impact pet longevity, diet, and exercise
AnimalBiome – pet microbiome services and products
Tharos – a feed additive that improves gut health by improving carbohydrate digestion
Bundle x Joy – superfood nutrition food, treats, and supplements
Chews Happiness – digestible dog chews that are all natural and ecofriendly
Gentle Beast – online obedience training for owners and their dogs
Hilltop Bio– room temperature regenerative therapies for OA in horses and pets
Innovate Pet Lab – at home health screening test for pets focusing of GI ailments

The next Petcare summit will take place in Berlin, so if there is interest from our readers about a similar update about European petcare innovations, let me know and I will share my insights again.

And how about the vet profession? The veterinary profession is a key part of the $60 billion animal health industry. Some of the start-ups at the Boston event were spinoff companies with evidence based fundamental research behind them and perhaps more applicable to the veterinary setting. But the next clinical veterinary centric event I will be attending is The Webinar Vet’s own Virtual Congress 2023. The standard ticket is free with majority of the lectures are scheduled for the evenings. See you there!