Name: Ecovative Design LLC
Founders: Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre
Main products: Mushroom-based industrial materials
Financials: Ecovative has received two rounds of private funding, one in 2011 ($14M) and another in 2013 (undisclosed).
Sustainability: Ecovative produces and sells biodegradable materials, therefore contributing to the development of a circular economy.
Ever wanted to grow your own packaging materials out of mushrooms? Me neither, but apparently you can have a successful business model based on that idea.
Ecovative Design LLC is a biomaterials company that produces sustainable industrial materials for a wide variety of purposes, from packaging to insulation and from building materials to automotive applications. What makes Ecovative unique is that instead of using traditional production techniques, the company literally grows their materials. This also means that the materials are biodegradable and compostable.
Here’s how it works: Ecovative uses agricultural byproducts, such as corn stocks and seed husks, as a feeding ground for fungus. Ecovative doesn’t actually grow mushrooms, but uses only the root structure of mushrooms, called mycelia. The mushroom roots act as a binding agent that transforms agricultural waste into durable and compostable materials. The end produce can be shaped into whichever form necessary.
The founders, Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre came up with the idea when they were studying mechanical engineering and product design and innovation in Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Their goal is “to rid the world of toxic, unsustainable materials”.
Ecovative is an excellent demonstration of the type of organizations and systems we need to develop if we want to transform our consumption-based economy into a circular one. I am also confident that companies like Ecovative will be the ones to create most economic growth in the future.
Check out a TED talk from the CEO Eben Bayer: