Phospholutions, a Penn State sustainable fertilizer startup, has raised up to $1.5 million in an investment round to support the full commercial launch of Phospholutions’ Rhizosorb product. The investment round was co-led by State College-based 1855 Capital and Maumee Ventures, the venture capital subsidiary of The Andersons, Inc., a diversified U.S. agribusiness.
RhizoSorb® is a soil-enhancement product that utilizes technology originally created in the Penn State University College of Agricultural Sciences. The product aims to reduce phosphorus runoff and enhance plant health, decreasing the amount of water and fertilizer needed for successful plant growth.
“Maumee Ventures works to identify products and technology that have the potential to positively impact our businesses and bring more value to our customers,” says John Kraus, vice president of Maumee Ventures and director of investor relations for The Andersons. “Phospholutions’ product and business plan directly address the need to deliver key nutrients to plants in an efficient and sustainable manner, and we are excited to include them in our portfolio.”
Phospholutions CEO, Hunter Swisher, began developing RhizoSorb® as an undergraduate in the plant sciences program. As part of a class assignment, Hunter learned about the technology and that it had been developed and patented by one of his Penn State professors. Seeing the market potential for the technology, he worked with the Penn State Office of Technology Management to license the IP and launch Phospholutions.
Swisher graduated from Penn State’s plant sciences program in December 2016. As an undergraduate developing Phospholutions, Swisher participated in the Invent Penn State Summer Founder’s Program, the Ben Franklin Technology Partners TechCelerator, the Happy Valley LaunchBox powered by PNC Bank FastTrack Accelerator, and competed in the 2018 Invent Penn State Venture & IP Conference Tech Tournament where he won first place and $75,000.
“We are very excited to have developed our business to the point that it has attracted this level of investment to support our continued growth,” says Hunter Swisher. “This investment will provide the resources necessary to bring new developments and solutions to market.”
1855 Capital, a seed and early-stage venture capital fund focused on investing in companies with roots in Penn State’s world-class research and educational environment, was an early supporter of Phospholutions.
“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to support Hunter and the mission at Phospholutions,” says Matt Rhodes, Managing Director of 1855 Capital. “We are especially pleased to work with Maumee Ventures and further our mission to bring national industry support to the local startup community.”