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Manure-to-water startup nets first VC investment

Megan Hernbroth
Apr 12, 2022
Illustration of a pitchfork lifting a jug of water.
Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Agriwater, an early-stage startup that turns manure slurry into clean water, raised $333,333 in outside funding, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Agtech will have to expand beyond soil regeneration and renewables partnerships if young upstarts want to crack into Big Ag, especially those with operations in drought-stricken states out West.

Driving the news: Agriwater raised two-thirds of a planned $500,000 funding round from a single investor, according to its Form D filed Friday.

  • Agriwater founder Dr. Bianca Bailey declined to identify the investor or share additional details of the funding round with Axios.
  • The startup joined HBCUvc, a nonprofit VC group that backs founders of underrepresented backgrounds, as part of its summer 2021 cohort, according to PitchBook.
  • Agriwater completed the iVenture Accelerator from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2020, where it received up to $20,000 to get the business started.

How it works: Agriwater uses electrolysis to purify manure slurry by removing heavy metals and odors, according to its website.

  • It monitors pollution levels via smart devices that report water quality directly to farm operators in real-time.
  • Agriwater's first pilot program reduced cattle slurry contaminates by 95%, according to its website.

Between the lines: Water is one of the most expensive elements of modern-day agriculture operations, especially in states like California and Arizona, which cut agriculture groups' water allotments during drought periods.

  • Finding alternative sources of water using upcycled materials already present on some multi-use farms could ease pricing pressure on agriculture businesses of all sizes.
  • It has remained less popular than other areas of agtech like soil regeneration, making even small investments meaningful in the long-term health of the industry.
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