Chonex is a bioscience company founded in 2017 by entrepreneur Michael Lynch and farmer Harley Martin to pursue "regenerative agriculture" technologies. It has developed "StrongSoil", a soil conditioner rich in plant nutrients. The company's field tests at 50 locations in 18 states indicate that it can increase yields while decreasing the use of chemical fertilizers.
The company's name is a combination of the chemical symbols for carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen, with "ex" for "extraction". Its StrongSoil conditioner is a shelf-stable dry material produced by feeding chicken manure to black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens) larvae under controlled conditions. Its test production is carried out in a climate-controlled former hog barn at Martins farm in Pickens County The company's offices were originally located at Birmingham's Innovation Depot, but later moved to the International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC) in Muscle Shoals. In 2021 the company relocated to the of campus of the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in Huntsville.
Chonex was invited to participate in the Prosperity Fund at Southern Research in early 2018, helping secure its intellectual property, process design and suppliers. In February of that year it received a $10,000 investment from the Birmingham Venture Club and was awarded $85,000 in the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama's Shoals Alabama Launchpad competition. It collected $5.78 million in seed funding from a group of state investors in 2022 and picked up another $2.5 million in January 2023 to help pursue patent protections. Later that year it sought $40 million to build a production facility in Robertsdale, Baldwin County.
- "With Prosperity Fund help, startup CHONEX aims to turn waste into profit." (April 17, 2018) Southern Research
- "HudsonAlpha welcomes Chonex to biotech campus." (November 10, 2021) HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology
- Thrailkill, Laurel (June 6, 2022) "Birmingham-based Chonex raises $5.78M in seed round funding." Birmingham Business Journal
- Thrailkill, Laurel (June 1, 2023) "Local agtech startup Chonex eyes $40M raise." Birmingham Business Journal
- Chonex website