Simcro a finalist in Agritech Innovation Awards

Simcro a finalist in New Zealand Agritech Innovation Awards

Simcro was one of six finalists in the prestigious New Zealand Agritech Innovation Awards announced in Hamilton last night for a world-first, revolutionary sheep drencher, OptilineTM.

The awards recognise innovation and commercialisation of a product in the agritech industry – an industry which accounts for more than $700 million in exports a year and domestic sales of $3 billion.

Waikato-based Simcro is one of the world’s top animal health delivery solutions providers. It specialises in highly customised designs which focus on user experience and innovation.

The unique Optiline drencher, developed in conjunction with Novartis Animal Health Inc, Switzerland takes a completely fresh approach to drench delivery. Optiline’s ergonomic design with an angled, downward-pointing nozzle and rounded mouthguard makes it easy to use and is better for the welfare of both the user and the animal.

“We are excited to be finalists in this award which is a great credit to the creativity and tenacity of the Simcro design, manufacturing and sales teams, the faith and trust of our client, Novartis Animal Health and the assistance of the farming and veterinary community we’ve consulted on this project around the world,” says Simcro managing director, Will Rouse.

Rouse says the Optiline story began in 2005 with a phone call from Novartis Animal Health in Switzerland to Simcro’s research and development manager and director Rod Walker.

“Novartis was developing the first new class of anthelmintic drench for more than 25 years, ZOLVIX® (monepantel) and they wanted a new drenching system to overcome some of the issues associated with systems on the market at the time,” explains Walker.

Walker, a professional engineer, grew up on a Waikato farm and his search for a new drenching solution was inspired by a childhood experience.

“I recalled holding a long-neck Waikato beer bottle ‘upside-down’ to direct drench down the throat of sick animals on the farm,” he says.

Walker and his team began with preliminary designs and concepts for an ‘inline drencher’ that would allow the user a more natural stance and eliminate the need to bend the arm awkwardly to insert the drench nozzle down the animal’s throat.

Some four years, a major investment in R&D, countless hours of dedication to the task and around a dozen prototypes later the Optiline drencher was launched in March 2009 in New Zealand as part of the global launch of ZOLVIX. The drencher is a key part of the OptimumTM Drench System, which also consists of the OptivixTM packaging and rucksack.

The Optiline drencher is lightweight yet robust, simple and accurate with two patent applications associated with the creep-free dosage lock to ensure the correct dosage and a bubble-reducing valve. The large, rounded mouthguard prevents the user from inserting the drench nozzle too far down the animal’s throat.

Another important consideration for the design team was to make the Optiline drencher suitable for use by a significant and emerging user group; women, and ethnic groups with smaller hands or less hand force than the traditional farmer. Other design features include easy priming, self-lubrication, repeatable high accuracy and tool-free adjustment.

Farmers and veterinarians around the world have hailed both the drench and the drenching system as the breakthrough they have been waiting for.

The secret of Simcro’s success, according to Walker, is finding talented people, investing heavily in R&D and forging partnerships with clients for the long haul.

Although the details are confidential, Simcro says the Optiline drencher clearly has multi-million dollar market potential internationally.