Cool Planet, the biofuel-turned-biological ag products company, has raised $19.3 million in venture funding from existing investors to drive the commercialization of its first products.
North Bridge Venture Partners and Agustín Coppel, patriarch of the Coppel Family, which owns various businesses in Mexico, led the round.
Cool Planet has discovered a way of engineering biocarbon to produce a soil supplement called Cool Terra that’s capable of increasing crop yields by an average of 14.9%. That’s according to 70 trials on lettuce, tomato, potato, strawberry, and alfalfa.
The company creates raw biochar using non-food biomass and then neutralizes the PH, removes the toxins, and conditions the pores of the biochar through its proprietary “demetra” process. This makes the biochar better able to retain water, nurture beneficial microbes in the soil and keep nutrients in the root zone for longer periods, according to Jim Loar, CEO of Cool Planet.
“We’re fixing the historical issues with biochar and making it applicable to modern agriculture,” he told AgFunderNews. “Cool Terra creates a luxury condominium and habitat for water and nutrients to become available to the plant, helping to build up long-term soil health.
The company has already partnered with Helena Chemical, J.R. Simplot, Triangle Chemical Company and AG RX to distribute Cool Terra to production agriculture clients as well as consumers in the turf, nursery, and ornamental markets.
“The potential for us in production agriculture is greater but there are many markets in turf that are ahead of agriculture in sustainability measurements and metrics, and a lot of that is due to regulatory pressure, which I believe will follow soon in production ag,” said Loar.
Cool Planet is also exploring the potential for its engineered biocarbon to improve animal health and potentially reduce methane emissions in cattle, the main environmental culprit of cattle farming. It could also promote weight gain, according to Loar. Cool Planet is currently actively testing Cool Fauna.
Cool Planet didn’t start out life as an agricultural products company but as a biofuels company producing hydrocarbon. However, with fuel prices dropping the company decided to pivot to the agriculture industry after realizing the crop enhancing abilities of the biomass leftovers from its biomass conversion system. Cool Fuels is still a part of the business and helped the company to raise over $140 million in funding from investors including Google Ventures, but is currently on the backburner as the company goes full steam ahead on the agricultural products.
In fact, Cool Planet is calling this round its Series A round of the pivoted business, even though it raised a $100 million D round in 2014.
“This is the A round of the agricultural business of Cool Planet,” said Loar. “We’ve still got all the IP and strength of Cool Planet’s existing research, but our earlier investors in the biofuels side are now taking a backseat, except North Bridge, which is an original investor and that speaks volumes to their belief in the team and the technology.”