Microbial Nitrogen Fertilizer Company Pivot Bio Raises $100 Million

By Amit Chowdhry ● May 2, 2020
  • Microbial nitrogen fertilizer company Pivot Bio announced that it raised $100 million in Series C funding

Microbial nitrogen fertilizer company Pivot Bio announced that it raised $100 million in Series C funding co-led by existing investors Breakthrough Energy Ventures and Temasek. Seed and Series A lead and Series B investor DCVC also materially participated in the round.

The Series C is co-led by return Series B investors Breakthrough Energy Ventures and Temasek. And they are joined by DCVC who led Pivot Bio’s seed and Series A rounds; Prelude Ventures; Spruce Capital Partners; Codon Capital; Bunge Ventures; Continental Grain Company; Tekfen Ventures; Pavilion Capital; and individual investors Alan Cohen and Roger Underwood. Including this round, the company has raised $186 million in funding.

With this round of funding, Pivet Bio will accelerate its plans to scale its first-to-market microbial nitrogen technology that increases crop yields and farmer revenue. And the technology will also help in decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution, and global energy use related to the $65 billion global synthetic nitrogen fertilizer market.

Pivot Bio PROVEN — which is the company’s inaugural product for corn — consistently delivers more nitrogen into the crop than synthetic nitrogen, translating to an average of 5.8 bushels per acre advantage when compared to fields using only synthetic nitrogen in 2019.

By adopting Pivot Bio’s cleaner nitrogen, agriculture will simultaneously achieve more consistent yields and eliminate one gigaton of carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions (equivalent to removing 216 million cars off the road). Plus water-borne nitrates will be reduced, avoiding an estimated $4.1 billion in U.S. water purification costs and significantly reducing the dead zones in our oceans. These reductions are driven by Pivot Bio helping farmers shrink their use of synthetic nitrogen fertilizer by at least 100 million metric tons over the coming decade.

Pivot Bio PROVEN – in its second year of commercialization – has again sold out and is used on hundreds of thousands of acres of U.S. corn as farmers seek cleaner nitrogen technology that can increase their profitability. Pivot Bio will deploy Series C capital to rapidly expand internationally. Pivot Bio PROVEN will soon be available to Argentinian corn farmers. And through IN10T’s FarmerTrials, Pivot Bio will launch Intent to Pivot on-farm corn trials for Canadian growers. Earlier this spring, the company launched its inaugural product for U.S. wheat crops, Pivot Bio RETURN, through a limited early-adopter program.

Pivot Bio’s approach uses significantly less energy than the manufacturing of synthetic fertilizer, eliminates 99.5% of greenhouse gas emissions during its production, and is delivered through regular shipping carriers.

And this model eliminates the costly infrastructure of factories, pipelines, barges, and storage at brick-and-mortar retail locations. Instead, local trusted agronomic advisors can leverage a simplified mobile app to order and schedule on-demand delivery as they help farmers plan their nutrient management strategy.

Key Quotes:

“Growers and our planet deserve a better fertilizer – one that balances on-farm economics with the farmer’s commitment to leave the land better for the next generation, and Pivot Bio’s technology helps them do just that. The strong backing by our Series C investors enables Pivot Bio to redefine the future of fertilizer and provide the world’s farmers with a new nitrogen source. Based on remarkable demand, we expect to ramp up from our large current footprint to millions of additional acres in the next growing season.”

“Farmer acceptance of our technology and support of our vision is far beyond our expectations. They understand the economics and efficiencies our product offers – more consistent yields, 100 percent nitrogen efficiency with the crop, and a lighter environmental footprint. It’s a triple bottom line for them and our planet.”

-Karsten Temme, Ph.D., CEO and co-founder of Pivot Bio

“Pivot Bio’s microbial nitrogen fertilizers are revolutionizing how farmers apply nitrogen to their crops, and we’re excited to continue our investment to support this important mission. The company is leading the charge on truly sustainable farming techniques, and we’re confident that they’ll continue to innovate their product offerings to solve this critical climate and societal challenge.”

-Carmichael Roberts of Breakthrough Energy Ventures

“Pivot Bio is addressing one of the most difficult challenges facing agriculture in the 21st century – reducing dependence on damaging synthetic fertilizer while increasing crop yields and creating better outcomes for farmers. DCVC led Pivot Bio’s early rounds and remains a major backer because we believe the company will truly transform global agricultural practices. We’re pleased the company continues to bring its microbial nitrogen technology to new crops and new locations, across America and around the world.”

-Matt Ocko, Managing Partner at DCVC