‘Our goal is to deploy it across 600,000 hectares in Europe by 2027’: French start-up secures €16 million to turn urine into crop biostimulants

By Oliver Morrison

- Last updated on GMT

The company has obtained market approvals in six EU member states for a microbial biostimulant, based on the fermentation of human urine. Image source: Toopi Organics
The company has obtained market approvals in six EU member states for a microbial biostimulant, based on the fermentation of human urine. Image source: Toopi Organics

Related tags fertilisers Agriculture Fermentation

Founded in 2019, Toopi Organics specialises in the collection and transformation of human urine into microbial plant biostimulants for agricultural use.

Thanks to the new funding, which was led by the global fund VisVires New Protein, the French company aims to have its biostimulant products on 600,000 hectares of crops in Europe by 2027. It also plans to launch three new urine-based products in the EU, and establish two industrial sites, in France and Belgium.

The business operates by collecting urine from places like gas stations, schools and music festivals, all within a close radius of its plant near Bordeaux. When there, it is put into biofermentators where it is used as a growth medium. The finished product, obtained after a few days of fermentation, is bacteria concentrated in a liquid that can be spread directly on the ground. According to the company, as well as being an excellent culture medium for microorganisms, human urine is rich in nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and micronutrients, which provide fertilizer to the soil.

Toopi-organics-series-a-funding-Michael-ROES-Alexandra-carpentier-1536x1024
Toopi Organics CEO Alexandra Carpentier with Founder and President Michael Roes. Image source: Toopi Organics

“Over the past three years, our first product – the Lactopi Start - underwent over 40 agronomic trials,”​ revealed Toopi Organics CEO Alexandra Carpentier. “It is now approved, including for use in organic agriculture, and thus provides a straightforward solution to reduce the EU dependence on phosphate fertilizer imports.

“For farmers, it means preserved yields, reduced overall fertilization costs, and low carbon footprint. The product was very well received in Belgium this year, with very encouraging field results from clients, which bodes well for the distribution campaign in France, which is starting now.”

Within three years, Toopi Organics has set up a unique human urine collection network in France, through partnerships with major players such as Vinci Highways for motorway rest areas, and EU-wide toilet rental company WC Loc for music festivals.

It has also obtained market approvals in six EU member states for a microbial biostimulant, based on the fermentation of human urine.

“This financing round really marks the transition from start-up to scale-up, with exciting milestones in terms of industrialization, market adoption, and environmental impact,” ​added Marie-Anne Dupin, Partner at VisVires New Protein.

“Ending urination in drinking water, and seeing urine as a natural resource, we're seen as funny, offbeat ideas when Toopi started out in 2019. Since, a scientific consensus on the benefits of human urine diversion and upcycling has emerged.”

Turning human urine into a sustainable resource for agriculture

Human urine is an unlimited resource. The European population discharges 240 billion liters of urine per year. According to the company, the spreading of urine-based biostimulants could make it possible to halve the use of phosphate fertilizers. The carbon footprint of 1 litre of the biostimulant meanwhile represents only 0.08 keq.CO2, in other words 50 to 150 times less than 1 kg of mineral fertilizer.

The process is also less expensive than the chemical inputs currently used in agriculture, the company claimed. Michael Roes, Founder and President of Toopi Organics, added the company has been helped by the war in Ukraine which led to unprecedented fertilizer shortages in 2022, with prices skyrocketing by up to 300%.

“With our technology, we finally provide a viable economic model to human urine upcycling for agriculture,”​ he said. “Now, with this new consortium of international investors, our ambition is to go fast and far, in Europe and elsewhere.”

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