Nitrogen Innovator Pivot Bio Bags $430M To Fight Synthetic Fertiliser Emissions

4 Mins Read

Pivot Bio, the Californian tech firm working to replace synthetic fertilisers, has just closed $430 million in its Series D. The company’s microbial nitrogen product, which it claims is the first of its kind in the world, can deliver consistent yields while eliminating the environmental harms linked to synthetic fertilisers. 

Pivot Bio closed its $430 million Series D funding round on Tuesday (July 19). Led by San Francisco-based DCVC and Singapore’s sovereign fund Temasek, the round brings the company’s total funding to date to $600 million. According to Forbes, Pivot Bio’s valuation now stands at nearly $2 billion

The funding will primarily go towards speeding up Pivot Bio’s development of new products aimed at disrupting the $197 billion global market for synthetic fertilisers. Synthetic fertilisers are a major contributor of GHG emissions, accounting for around 7% of the world’s carbon footprint. 

Read: Study – synthetic fertilisers in agriculture driving super potent emissions

Becoming the ‘sole source of nitrogen needed’

Fuelled by new capital, Pivot Bio says it’ll be accelerating its efforts to tackle emissions coming from the world’s most important crops—corn, wheat, and rice. It’ll scale within the U.S. first, before expanding into international markets. Globally, these three crops use up $60 billion worth of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser each year. 

Farmer in Iowa using Pivot Bio’s product. (Image: Pivot Bio)

The Californian ag-tech startup released its first microbial nitrogen product in 2019. According to the company, its solution immediately lowers and prevents nitrogen emissions. It also eliminates soil depletion, water pollution, and harm to wildlife. Over a decade, Pivot Bio says their products could help avoid $200 billion worth of environmental costs.

[We] aim to provide the sole source of nitrogen needed.

Karsten Temme, Co-Founder & CEO, Pivot Bio

All the while, it is still able to deliver profits and boost yields for farmers. “We have built a platform for accelerating nitrogen innovation in the market, and our products are delivering recurring positive outcomes for the growers we serve,” said Karsten Temme, co-founder and CEO of Pivot Bio. 

“[We] aim to provide the sole source of nitrogen needed to power the economic and environmental sustainability of global agriculture for generations to come.” 

Triple-digit growth

The impressive funding round comes as Pivot Bio records surging demand for its agricultural solutions. In 2021 alone, the firm claims to have displaced the use of synthetic nitrogen on over 1 million crop acres. This represents more than 300% year-on-year growth. 

Pivot Bio’s products are being applied in the Midwest. (Image: Pivot Bio)

We have proven that our products provide consistent yields and profits for farmers.

Karsten Temme, Co-Founder & CEO, Pivot Bio

Pivot Bio says the rapid pace of adoption is down to its ability to boost profit for farmers. Its fourth product, Proven 40, can replace 40 pounds of synthetic nitrogen per acre, reducing the amount of labour and machinery needed. 

The startup also claims that it provides weatherproof delivery—nitrogen is consistently applied throughout the growing season. 

“We have earned the trust of farmers for our direct-to-grower approach and have proven that our products provide consistent yields and profits for farmers, even in the face of a volatile climate,” explained Temme.

Investors bullish on sustainable ag-tech

Temme says their successful Series D is indicative of the growing interest investors are showing in the field of agricultural tech innovations. Temasek and DCVC were joined by names like Rockefeller Capital, G2 Venture Partners, and Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures—all previous investors in Pivot Bio. 

Pivot Bio scientist preparing samples of treated corn seed at their Berkeley-based lab. (Image: Pivot Bio)

Matt Ocko, co-managing partner at DCVC, described Pivot Bio’s solutions as a “win-win-win breakthrough” that investors are “honored to back”. 

“Pivot Bio exemplifies the power of DeepTech solutions to create equitable and profitable outcomes for all stakeholders in immense industries like agriculture,” Ocko continued. “Farmers are able to grow more crops to feed more people, more cost-effectively, while being even better stewards of their land and water.” 

Other ag-tech startups that recently bagged funding include SupPlant, an Israeli firm providing sensorless irrigation to farmers, and Hazel Technologies, a U.S. company that focused on fighting food waste in agricultural supply chains. 

All images courtesy of Pivot Bio.


  • Sally Ho

    Sally Ho is Green Queen's former resident writer and lead reporter. Passionate about the environment, social issues and health, she is always looking into the latest climate stories in Hong Kong and beyond. A long-time vegan, she also hopes to promote healthy and plant-based lifestyle choices in Asia. Sally has a background in Politics and International Relations from her studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

You might also like