- France-based Toopi Organics has raised €16 million ($17.2 million) for its urine-based biostimulants business for agriculture.
- International fund VisVires New Protein led the €11 million ($11.8 million) series A round with participation from European impact funds Edaphon, Noshaq, MAIF Impact, and BNP Paribas Dévelopment.
- Existing investors IRDI, JOHES, and MakeSense also participated.
- Toopi Organics obtained the additional €5 million ($5.3 million) in non-dilutive funds from the French government (ADEME) and Bpifrance.
- New capital will go towards expanding Toopi Organic’s urine collection network, launching three new urine-based products and building two new industrial sites.
- The startup plans to collect and convert more than 2 million liters of human urine by 2027 to use in its biostumulant that reduces need for mineral fertilizers.
A new spin on an ancient practice
Founded in 2019, Toopi Organics has developed a crop biostimulant sourced from urine collected at motorway rest areas and other public locations.
Founder Michael Roes’ motivation for starting the company was to remove urine from the drinking water cycle and turn it into a resource for agricultural purposes.
“Pee in drinkable water is nonsense,” CEO Alexandra Carpentier tells AgFunderNews. “And with urine you have many nutrients that farmers need [that] they use in mineral fertilizers in their fields.”
The concept of urine as fertilizer goes back millennia. As Carpentier notes, human waste is rich in phosphorus, nitrogen and potassium, the same elements in chemical crop inputs that are vital to crop yield. Some researchers have determined that human beings produce between 100 and 150 gallons of urine per year — enough to grow wheat for a year’s worth of bread.
Toopi Organics isn’t making its own fertilizer, however. Instead, the company has put a new spin on an ancient concept by using urine in its patented fermentation process for its root biostimulant, Lactop Start.
Once collected, the urine undergoes a stabilization and hygienization process where it is inoculated with bacteria and fermented for up to 72 hours. The result is a highly concentrated microbial biostimulant.
The product can be used alongside traditional mineral fertilizer and, according to Carpentier can reduce the need for synthetic fertilizer by up to 50%.
“We are less expensive,” she adds of Toopi Organics’ product. “A farmer uses our products and replaces half of his mineral fertilizers. He keeps the same yield and he saves money on fertilizing — between 20% to 40% depending on the highly volatile prices on [conventional] inputs.”
Aided by the new funding, Toopi Organics hopes to have its biostimulant products on 600,000 hectares of crops in Europe by 2027.
Partnering for pee collection
To collect enough urine to reach such numbers, Toopi Organics partners with major organizations that include everything from music festivals to theme parks to highway rest stops.
The company received regulatory approval last year from ANSES, the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety; it is also authorized to market the product in Belgium, Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal.
For example, four portable toilet blocks at the Futuroscope Park in France are now equipped with collection systems for urine to be taken out of the drinking water system and turned into Toopi Organics products. Futuroscope aims to extend the system to the entire theme park.
Toopi has also struck a deal with VINCI Autoroutes and has four rest areas on the A10 autoroute in France equipped with the collection system. It also works with WC Loc, which rents mobile toilets to music festivals across Europe.
The new funds will go towards expanding Toopi Organics’ urine-collection networks, starting with France and Belgium.
“We will build a new facility, one in France and one in Belgium,” says Carpentier, who adds that funding will also go towards financing a sales team and the development of three new urine-based products “that will be on the market before 2027.”
“Ending urination in drinking water and seeing urine as a natural resource, were seen as funny, offbeat ideas when Toopi started out in 2019,” says founder Roes. “Since then, a scientific consensus on the benefits of human urine diversion and upcycling has emerged.”
“With our technology, we finally provide a viable economic model to human urine upcycling for agriculture. Now, with this new consortium of international investors, our ambition is to go fast and far, in Europe and elsewhere.”
“We want to sell huge volumes to allow farmers to replace mineral fertilizers massively,” adds Carpentier. “That’s our value.”