Pivot Bio holds grand opening for its new customer success center in Iowa State’s Research Park

On a rainy morning, Thursday, Aug. 26, professionals from the world of agriculture gathered at Iowa State’s Research Park to witness the grand opening and ribbon cutting of Pivot Bio’s newest facility.

Surrounded by plots of corn fertilized by Pivot Bio’s innovative nitrogen-producing microbes, the new building exists to host and educate potential customers of Pivot Bio and their products.

Pivot Bio launched in 2011, co-founded by Alvin Tamsir, Chief Science Officer, and Karsten Temme, Chief Executive Officer, the company began working towards more sustainable ways to fertilize crops.

Crops are traditionally fertilized by applying nitrogen to plants and soil through synthetic nitrogen fertilizer. This fertilizer is expensive, usually being the second-highest input cost for a crop, and much of the fertilizer also never reaches the plant, running off with rain or volatilizing into the air and causing environmental issues.

In 2018 Pivot Bio launched their first commercial product, Proven, a liquid containing microbial bacteria that takes in nitrogen from the atmosphere and transfers it into a form that the plant needs to thrive. The microbes bind to the plant’s roots, allowing them to stay with the plant for its entire life cycle, continuously supplying the plant with nutrients.

Since then, Pivot Bio has developed several better versions of the product, most recently unveiling their newest product, PROVEN 40, in July. The product can replace forty pounds of environmentally harmful synthetic fertilizer per acre, allowing farmers to save costs and reduce environmental effects. PROVEN 40 will officially launch later this week.

As people arrived at the Pivot Bio facility Thursday, they walked into a warehouse outfitted with tables and a small stage for the speakers of the ribbon-cutting ceremony. The speakers: Dan Culhane, Debi Durham, Julie Kenny, Wendy Wintersteen and Temme, took the stage and gave their remarks.

The speakers all held important positions in the organizations currently shaping the worlds of agriculture and science. They shared hopes of new possibilities for collaboration and innovation and celebrated the accomplishments of their prospective establishment. After Temme gave the closing remarks, the ribbon cutting took place, and the crowd dispersed to explore the building and interact with colleagues.

The new building is just one of Pivot Bio’s many locations, from labs and greenhouses in Silicon Valley to shipping warehouses in Chicago. The new Customer Success Center offers offices for client outreach and education. Spaces for sales departments and customer services allow for streamlined communication with customers. The space also has a farm-friendly feel with portraits of grand fields of corn on the walls and 300-pound conference tables made out of old barn wood.

Pivot Bio didn’t choose to set up in Iowa State’s Research Park only to be close to Iowan Farmers; the company intends to work closely with Iowa State and its students. Pivot Bio will be present at events like the Iowa State Business or Ag Career Fairs and some others. They have also been working on expanding their internship opportunities, hoping to induct students into the startup.

Temme commented on the choice to set up shop at the Research Park.

“At the end of the day we’ve got a real strong affinity for Iowa.” Temme said, “A bunch of our great team members are based here, a bunch of our customers are based here. One of the things we’ve loved the most about being part of the research park is we’ve got some really strong connections with the university itself, the research we’re partnered on here and the opportunity to have these facilities.”

Pivot Bio being in the Research Park allows for collaboration of all sorts of resources owned by Iowa State. Temme suggested such collaboration offers chances to improve things like farming or the science of agronomy.

“I think we would be honored if our presence is something that has a ripple effect, that would be a dream come true for us that what we can bring is beneficial to others as well,“ said Temme.

Much like the symbiotic relationship formed between Pivot Bio’s microbes and the plants they fertilize, Iowa State University and Pivot Bio’s new partnership promises to be mutually beneficial. As the startup continues to develop new products, they can engage with students of the university and inspire them to continue innovating and developing groundbreaking products.

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