Dealflow | July 19, 2021

Pivot Bio rakes in $430 million to replace synthetic nitrogen in agriculture

Roodgally Senatus
ImpactAlpha Editor

Roodgally Senatus

ImpactAlpha, July 19 — Berkeley, Calif.-based biotech company Pivot Bio wants to make corn, wheat and rice – the world’s three biggest cereal crops – less reliant on synthetic nitrogen fertilizer, a major expense for farmers and a major contributor to climate change.

“We knew that our farmers and our planet were at a critical point where a new nitrogen solution was needed to drive agricultural productivity but just using more synthetic was clearly not the answer given its negative impacts on the environment,” Pivot Bio’s Karsten Temme told ImpactAlpha.

Along with seeds, Pivot Bio plants microbes into the ground, to capture nitrogen from the atmosphere and convert it into nutrition for crops. Temme believes the firm’s products can displace half the fertilizer used on cereal crops, providing over 40 million tons of nitrogen directly to crop roots.

Climate capital

The round was co-led by San Francisco-based venture capital firm DCVC and Temasek, Singapore’s state-backed investment arm.

Participating investors include Generation Investment Management, G2 Venture Partners, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Rockefeller Capital Management, Pavilion Capital and others.

Pivot Bio’s “proven alternative is both more sustainable and profitable” for farmers, said Generation’s Lila Preston.

Agrifood tech

Boston’s Ginkgo Bioworks, which also deploys microbes to help plants grow, is aiming to go public via a merger with Soaring Eagle Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company led by former MGM Studios CEO Harry Sloan (see,Ginkgo Bioworks acquires microbial engineering company Novogy). The deal will value Ginkgo at $15 billion.