Agritech company Phospholutions, a sustainable fertilizer startup based in State College, Pennsylvania, has a new hub in St. Petersburg and hopes it will help bolster the area’s agriculture sector.
Phospholutions, which is focused on developing technologies to enhance efficiency and reduce the environmental impact of phosphorus, has opened its new office at 360 Central Ave.
Agriculture businesses are predominantly in areas such as Raleigh, North Carolina; St. Louis, Minneapolis and Denver.
“We were really torn between Denver and St. Pete. I moved down here two years ago, and I was not anticipating opening an office here till I lived here,” Phospholutions CEO Hunter Swisher said in an exclusive interview with the St. Pete Catalyst. “We wanted to have a central location on the East Coast that makes it easy to travel between our offices and is a location that provides quality of life for employees in a professional setting that brings clients to us.”
He added the challenge with the existing Pennsylvania HQ is how it is not in proximity to major airports and there’s limited talent.
“Although St. Pete isn’t a major agriculture hub, it is where domestic phosphate production is happening and it positions us for growth,” Swisher said. “Red tide and green tide [major environmental issue in Tampa Bay] are usually directly associated with nutrient pollution, of which phosphate has been the largest contributor,” he explained, giving an example of the Piney Point spill in 2021, which caused wastewater to be dumped into Tampa Bay and worsened the red tide issue the area was already battling.
Today, more than 90% of phosphorus mined is applied as fertilizer to farm fields, yet only 10% makes it to the consumer’s plate. The startup’s approach starts with increasing fertilizer efficiency to reduce depletion rates of our known reserves, maximize use within the food chain, and minimize the environmental impact.
Phospholutions’ clients include large phosphorous producers as well as farmers. The startup has a business-to-business sales model. It sells the product directly to producers to incorporate it into their production process, which results in higher efficiency fertilizer, and it is then sold through the channels, making its way to the farmers.
Swisher said a handful of employees will be relocating to St. Pete and roughly eight positions are open. Phospholutions will continue operating out of its Pennsylvania HQ for administration, and research and development.
Phospholutions is working with the St. Petersburg Area Economic Development Corp. on the relocation process. The pair are planning a ribbon-cutting ceremony May 24 at 1 p.m. at the First Central Tower.
The move to St. Pete also follows Phospholutions raising $10.3 million in a Series A round in 2021. The round was led by the Continental Grain Company‘s CGC Ventures. Other investors included Maumee Ventures, Tekfen Ventures, the Ag Ventures Alliance Cooperative and 1855 Capital.
“The funding is helping us expand and open this second office,” Swisher said, it also is helping strengthen the startup’s network of farmers. Phospholutions is planning on raising a Series B round.