Photo: Pexels - Alejandro Barrón
Happy Valley’s Phospholutions, Inc., a sustainable fertilizer start-up based in the Technology Center Incubator at Innovation Park at Penn State, has announced $10.3 million in Series A funding led by Continental Grain Company. Other investors include: Tekfen Ventures; Maumee Ventures, LLC, the venture capital subsidiary of The Andersons, Inc.; Ag Ventures Alliance Cooperative; and 1855 Capital.
The funding will be used to accelerate growth and allow the company to address larger market opportunities. “We anticipate more than doubling our team over the next year to support our entry into broad-acre crop production,” says Phospholutions’ CEO, Hunter Swisher.
Phospholutions’ signature technology, RhizoSorb® is a soil amendment or fertilizer additive used to efficiently deliver phosphorus and other nutrients to crops. The company has seen dramatic declines in use rates of fertilizer products, sometimes as high as 75% less phosphorus applied, while maintaining crop yields—this results in stronger grower margins and dramatically improves sustainability.
“Our focus continues to be the betterment of the farmer’s livelihood and the world that we live in. Nutrient runoff degrades our water systems and undernourishes our crops, leading to over use of fertilizers that are costly— both monetarily and environmentally. We believe that products like RhizoSorb® will continue to help farmers achieve better, more consistent, outcomes,” says Kris Kemeny, Tekfen Ventures Managing Director.
“We anticipate more than doubling our team over the next year to support our entry into broad-acre crop production”
After focusing its launch on turf and ornamental markets, the technology also demonstrated cost savings and environmental benefit for row crops like corn and soybean. With these results in hand, Phospholutions is focused on establishing a farmer network and partnerships necessary to commercialize these applications.
Chris Abbott, Co-Head of Continental Grain’s venture capital strategy said, “Phospholutions has the potential to solve systemic issues around fertilizer application in several key crops. We are excited to partner with the Phospholutions team to help commercialize this technology globally which we believe will positively impact key issues around soil health, water quality and grower profitability.”
Swisher expressed excitement about the company’s partnership with the current round of investors. “We are thrilled to have such strategic investors on board,” said Swisher. “CGC is a well-respected AgTech investor with experience and a network that supports our mission. Maumee co-led our Seed funding round and continues to support us both financially and commercially. Tekfen Ventures brings its experience in early-stage AgTech investing as well as an international network and strategic engagement opportunities through the Toros Agri brand, and Ag Ventures Alliance has a true commitment to supporting farm productivity with a farmer network to engage during this critical field trial season. We’re also grateful 1855 Capital for its continued support for Phospholutions as a Penn State-born startup.”
"We are excited to partner with the Phospholutions team to help commercialize this technology globally which we believe will positively impact key issues around soil health, water quality and grower profitability."
“Phospholutions is a great entrepreneurial story of identifying and commercializing Penn State University born research,” added Matt Rhodes, Managing Director of 1855 Capital, “1855 Capital is very pleased that our early participation has helped Hunter and his team attract such a high quality investment syndicate.”
In the past year, Phospholutions added two executives to drive its growth into new markets: Bob Young, chief commercial officer, brings 35 years of experience with fertilizer and crop protectants; and Aaron Waltz, Ph.D., chief technology officer, has more than 20 years of research and development experience in transgenic trait evaluation, crop protection, and agrochemical manufacturing. Swisher, a passionate environmentalist and Penn State University graduate, founded Phospholutions in 2016 to develop and commercialize solutions to improve efficiency of global phosphorus use. The company operates in the Technology Center Incubator in Innovation Park at Penn State.
“Phospholutions is a great entrepreneurial story of identifying and commercializing Penn State University born research”
Phospholutions (phospholutions.com) utilizes its patented technology to increase efficiency and alleviate the environmental impact of phosphorus fertilizer. Current commercial products aim to deliver phosphorus more efficiently to the plant within the soil to increase farmer profitability while reducing unwanted losses to the environment.
Continental Grain is a 200+ year old global investor and operator of ag and food companies. CGC Ventures makes venture capital and growth equity investments in businesses that have the potential to define the future of food and agriculture.
Tekfen Ventures invests in early-stage technology and science companies solving substantial challenges. The firm backs disruptive technology across AgTech, Construction Tech, and Industrial Tech to help create the capabilities the world needs to feed, build, and supply our collective future. Tekfen Ventures is backed by Tekfen Holding, a publicly-traded industrial conglomerate. Tekfen is a global leader in Construction, Engineering, and Agriculture with over 25,000 employees working across 40 subsidiaries.
Located in Maumee, Ohio, Maumee Ventures is the venture capital subsidiary of The Andersons, Inc. (Nasdaq: ANDE), a diversified company rooted in agriculture. Maumee Ventures was designed to foster promising innovations that align with the company's core businesses. An early stage seed/series A/B investor, the company focuses on practical solutions for the plant nutrients and crop protection, precision science, grain supply chain, food safety and field tracing, energy and freight logistics sectors.
Ag Ventures Alliance Cooperative invests in companies that increase farm profitability, bringing financial resources and the added value of supplementing AgVA staff resources with our extensive farmer network to assure that products optimize farm productivity and income.
1855 Capital is a seed and early stage venture capital fund investing in companies with an affinity to Penn State University, including University Park, Hershey Medical Center, all the Commonwealth campuses and Penn State alumni throughout the U.S. While the Fund has strong ties to the Penn State community, 1855 Capital is privately owned and operated and is not directly affiliated with Penn State. 1855 Capital looks for companies in the areas of Agtech, Information Technology, Advanced Materials, Fintech, Edtech, and Healthcare and Medical Devices. The team at 1855 Capital offers mentorship and funds for high quality start-ups to ensure their success, for the benefit of our investors, the start-up teams, and the community.