Editor’s note: This is one of five startup profiles featuring the latest recipients of $50,000 NC IDEA grants. The winners were announced Thursday.

DURHAM – Yes, manure.  Tar Heel-based Phinite is boosting sales efforts in North Carolina with a focus on deploying their renewable fertilizer solutions on hog farms in the state.

“The NC IDEA grant is a great vindication of the hard work we’ve put in,” says Jordan Phasey, the founder and CEO of Phinite.  “And the opportunity to create an entirely new business model by recycling this material, which would solve a big environmental problem and be fantastic for North Carolina.”


The company launched as a result of a United States EPA technology competition, the Nutrient Recycling Challenge, and it received an award at the White House in 2016.  In the process of accepting the award, Phasey met a team from Smithfield Foods, who would later invite Phasey to solve a problem at a facility in North Carolina.

Soil everywhere in the world needs nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium in order to cultivate crops.  Fertilizer often lists the “NPK” ratio on the top of the bag.  Everyone in the world needs phosphorous to grow food, notes Phasey, “The world is running out and prices are rising.”

So the company makes renewable fertilizer from animal manure.  Animal agriculture also happens to be the largest available resource globally, he adds, so the opportunity is immense.

Farmers, especially hog farmers in North Carolina, often lack the space, facilities, or resources needed to land-apply their manure, and risk being shut down for failing to effectively manage manure.  Because manure is wet, it is bulky and expensive to transport.

Phinite developed technology to dry manure, which makes it cost effective to haul it.  “Our patent-pending technology is the lowest cost and most simple dewatering technology in the world,” Phasey says.  “It’s a breakthrough in manure handling.”

Diverse group of five startups lands $250,000 in grants from NC IDEA