Phospholutions selected for Innovation Showcase on Capitol Hill

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State was recognized for its leadership among land-grant universities for its work in entrepreneurship, innovation and economic development at the recent annual meeting for the 237-member Association of Land Grant Universities (APLU) in Washington D.C.

At the meeting, Penn State President Eric Barron was named the new chair of the Commission on Innovation, Competitiveness and Economic Prosperity (CICEP).

Penn State Vice President for Research Neil Sharkey was acknowledged as an Innovation & Economic Prosperity (ICEP) University Award finalist. Sharkey was a featured speaker, sharing institutional strategies driving the success of the Invent Penn State initiative.

Penn State startup company Phospholutions was one of 20 startups, selected from 100 applicants, to participate in the organization’s first ever University Innovation Showcase to help inform Capitol Hill staffers about the impact of research on economic development.

Phospholutions was founded by Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences undergraduate Hunter Swisher with intellectual property he licensed from the University. He discovered the unlicensed IP while doing an undergraduate research project and believed he could use it to develop a product and a business.

After utilizing numerous Invent Penn State and local entrepreneurship ecosystem resources, Phospholutions is shipping its first product, Rhizosorb, to golf courses that are using it to enhance turf root depth. When turf grass has deeper roots, golf courses use less water to maintain the grass and use less fertilizer to keep the turf healthy.

Additionally, the deeper roots prevent fertilizer runoff and preserve groundwater quality, a longtime challenge for golf course owners and environmentalists. As the company and product lines evolve, the startup hopes to develop products for agricultural markets and amplify its impact.

Phospholutions COO Ben Nason represented the company at the Innovation Showcase. Nason started as an intern at the company and was inspired to continue because he felt they are making a difference.

“We are honored to have been selected to participate in the first University Innovation Showcase on Capitol Hill,” said Nason. “Legislators need to know the incredible research that comes out of Penn State and everything the University is doing to support startups. Phospholutions wouldn’t exist without Penn State’s incredible support — training, networking, mentorship and connections to micro grants and funding. We are really proud to be a Penn State startup.”

The University Innovation Showcase, sponsored by the Association of American Universities and Venture Well, a venture capital firm, was an opportunity to learn about the impact of primary research on local economies.

“Phospholutions is a perfect example of the impact Penn State research can have on economic development. We’re proud of the College of Ag’s productivity in tech transfer and of this undergraduate team, now graduated, that has worked so hard to create economic benefit while helping the environment,” said Sharkey.

Last Updated November 22, 2017