Season 14 Innovators
Never leaving hometown in Algeria up until graduating from high school, Youcef Fermi led a relaxed and humble life. The aspiring innovator always leaned towards electronic engineering and began his journey in that field. He travelled to Constantine, Algeria to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Science Engineering, then went on to pursue a master’s degree in Opto-Electronic Engineering, before completing his PhD in Micro Nano-Electronics in Algeria.
During the pandemic, the Algerian scientist enrolled in a scholarship program in Sorbonne University in France, which he completed in a year and half while also working a full-time job at the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) research lab in Paris.
Fermi is now an Electronics Engineering Assistant Professor at Les Freres Mentouri Costantine in Algeria.
The Algerian academic has been a fan of Stars of Science since 2010, where he was intrigued by all the projects and innovations. This year, he worked hard to further develop his idea and applied to Stars of Science and was able to secure a spot among the Top 7 innovators in the Arab world. The innovator knew that he wanted to be a part of the show even if it took him two trials, as he believes that Stars of Science will provide him with great resources to further develop his invention.
About the Project
Algeria is home to some of the deadliest species of scorpions that are of huge medical interest. One gram of scorpion venom costs around $7,500 to extract, making it one of the most expensive and sought-after materials in the pharma and medical world. The venom extraction process is a cruel process, with all available methods requiring electrocution of the scorpion.
Fermi’s Scorpion Venom Safe Milking offers a safer method of venom extraction. His invention is an automated venom extraction system featuring novel electronic vibrations and emulation of moth sounds. The device deceives a scorpion into stinging a specially designed capsule, covered in moth powder, and secreting venom into it without endangering the scorpion's health.
Each scorpion species favors a specific kind of moth. For Fermi’s technology to provide the optimal venom collection results, the sound emitted should be coming from that scorpion’s preferred species of moth. Following the secretion of venom – which is a tiring process for scorpions – Fermi releases a moth to keep the scorpions healthy and well-fed.
As the only device to use a minimally invasive technology to extract one of the most sought-after liquids in the medical world, Fermi envisions his device to be the go-to way to extract scorpion venom in the region and the world.
The Scorpion Venom Safe Milking is not only restricted to one species of scorpions, but it can also be adapted to suit a variety of species. Each scorpion gravitates towards a specific species of moth, with these changes reflected in the terrarium, the technology can be adapted to the vast spectrum of scorpion species around the world.
With scorpion venom’s benefits in the medical field, the Algerian professor hopes his automated chamber of scorpion method provides a safer way of extraction that preserves the life of scorpions.