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Switch Bioworks harvests $4.3M for fertilizer

Alan Neuhauser
May 25, 2022
Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

A startup developing less harmful fertilizer raised $4.3 million in a pre-seed round led by Anthos Capital and Acre Venture Partners.

Why it matters: Current fertilizers — from manufacture to application — may generate more greenhouse gas emissions than commercial aviation.

What's happening: Switch Bioworks is developing "symbiotic microbes" to replace the chemical nitrogen in common fertilizers.

  • Nitrogen fertilizer is typically produced from fossil fuels.
  • Agriculture accounts for about 10.5% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Roughly 20% of that pollution is from the production and use of nitrogen-based fertilizer alone — and that doesn't include impacts of runoff on water supplies and ecosystems.

What's next: Switch is aiming to engineer microbes that will eliminate the emissions and pollution associated with most current fertilizers.

  • The funding pre-seed round will support further R&D.

Of note: Emerson Collective, a corporation founded by Laurene Powell Jobs, also participated in the round.

  • Co-lead investor Anthos is focused on growth-stage companies. Acre targets startups in food and agriculture.
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