Faculty startup named innovation business of the year

Innovation Award
Goldfinch Solutions receives the Innovation Business of the Year Award from the Nebraska Business Development Center. Pictured are Goldfinch Vice President of Research and Development Govindarajan Konda Naganathan (left), Senior Vice President Chris Calkins, NBDC Director of Technology Commercialization Wei Jing, Nebraska State Senator Kate Bolz and Goldfinch President Jeyam Subbiah.

May 2, 2017

Lincoln, Neb. —Goldfinch Solutions, a University of Nebraska–Lincoln faculty startup company, has been named the Nebraska Business Development Center’s Innovation Business of the Year. They received the award at a recent ceremony at the Nebraska State Capitol.

Goldfinch Solutions was founded in 2008 by Jeyam Subbiah, Kenneth E. Morrison Distinguished Professor of Food Engineering, Chris Calkins, professor of animal science, and Ashok Samal, professor of computer science and engineering, based off of research they conducted at the university. Goldfinch is pioneering multispectral imaging technology to identify tender beef at the packing stage of production.

“You can’t tell the tenderness of a steak by the naked eye. With multispectral imaging, we can capture information about that steak that will identify the properties of the muscle and tell us if it’s tender or not,” said Calkins, senior vice president.

According to Calkins, 80 percent of all carcasses from fed cattle qualify for a USDA “Choice” or “Prime” rating, which means there is not much distinction between the ratings. The Goldfinch imaging system allows the user to certify the tenderness of a rib eye steak and apply that guarantee to similar cuts from the same source.

“If we can screen those cattle and provide that guarantee, we believe consumers would pay a premium for that meat,” Calkins said.

During their software development process, Goldfinch has tested thousands of steaks and has a 95 percent accuracy rating when classifying the meat as tender. While the hardware and software are not currently on the market, the team hopes to soon get the technology into packing houses and grocery stores.

Since 2008, Goldfinch Solutions has received a total of $850,000 in funding from two Small Business Innovation Research program grants, in addition to support from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development. Subbiah, who serves as president of the company, said Goldfinch would not have been able to secure funding without the assistance of NBDC.

“Early on when we were trying to make tight deadlines to secure funding, NBDC really helped us navigate the grant application processes,” Subbiah said. “NBDC has been pivotal to the company’s progression.”

Goldfinch Solutions joined with Paul Engler to form a second company, TenderSpec, to market the technology. The legendary cattleman is in the Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame, Meat Industry Hall of Fame and also founded the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program at the university.

The NBDC is part of the College of Business Administration at the University of Nebraska Omaha. The goal of the center is to help Nebraska businesses grow and create new jobs. Certified NBDC consultants provide confidential, impartial services and educational opportunities for established startup businesses, researchers, entrepreneurs and professionals. To learn more about the NBDC and the Innovation Business of the Year Award, visit https://www.unomaha.edu/nebraska-business-development-center/about/success-stories/goldfinch-solutions.php

Jeyam Subbiah
Kenneth E. Morrison Distinguished Professor of Food Engineering
402-472-4944
jeyam.subbiah@unl.edu

Chris Calkins
Professor of Animal Science
402-472-6314
ccalkins1@unl.edu