ecovative design

Taking Ideas Further: NCIIA grantees on TED

Daniel Kraft: the Marrow Miner

Eben Bayer: the Ecocradle


Sealed Air and Ecovative to accelerate commercialization of packaging material

Sealed Air Corporation and Ecovative Design are working to accelerate the production, sales and distribution of Ecovative's EcoCradle Mushroom Packaging, an environmentally responsible packaging material made from agricultural byproducts and mycelium.

As part of the agreement, Sealed Air will be the exclusive licensee of EcoCradle in North America for protective packaging applications. Sealed Air plans to begin offering the new products immediately.

Ecovative began developing environmentally friendly insulation materials with this 2007 E-Team grant.

Ecovative Design wins prestigious United States Environmental Protection Agency Environmental Quality Award

Ecovative Design has won the prestigious United States Environmental Protection Agency Environmental Quality award. Ecovative is a former E-Team and upstate New York company that makes biodegradable packaging material from mushrooms.

EPA regional administrator Judith Enck presented the environmental leadership award to Ecovative on Thursday, April 20. The company uses the "roots" of the mushroom—called mycelium—and plant matter to make soft blocks that are used to cushion products ranging from computer servers to furniture.

Ecovative Design featured on Dot Earth blog in NY Times

Andrew Revkin recently blogged in the NY Times about his visit to Ecovative Design, a former E-Team developing packaging, insulation and other materials from mushrooms. The piece delves into the history of Ecovative, which got its start in a course run by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's (and NCIIA Olympus Award winner) Burt Swersey.

Former E-Team Ecovative Design and Sealed Air Corporation team up

Former E-Team Ecovative Design LLC and Sealed Air Corporation have announced they will work together to accelerate the production, sales and distribution of Ecovative’s EcoCradle® Mushroom™ Packaging, an environmentally responsible packaging material made from agricultural byproducts and mycelium, or mushroom roots. The technology was developed in part with a 2007 E-Team grant.

Read the press release.

Watch the video! Ecovative Design on MotherBoard TV's 'Upgrade' show


Creating a company - Eben Bayer on the evolution of Ecovative Design

We uncovered this video featuring Eben Bayer of former E-team Ecovative Design. He provides a great insight into his technology and company, and the benefits of green packaging compared to plastics. Bear in mind NCIIA provided Ecovative with its first external funding only four years ago...

Ecovative Design wins DuPont Award for Packaging Innovation

Former E-Team grantee Ecovative Design has won a top DuPont Corp award for its biodegradable mushroom packaging.

The judges found Ecovative’s fungus technology to be a “cost-effective and sustainable replacement for expanded polystyrene or other materials used in protective packaging.”

Read more: Ecovative Design wins top DuPont award | The Business Review
And: TechCrunch's story on Ecovative Design.


NCIIA grantee Ecovative Design gets an infusion of cash

Ecovative Design, a 2007 E-Team that is manufacturing packaging out of mushrooms, has announced equity investments from 3M, RPI and the DOEN Foundation. Read more...


NCIIA grantees on CNN!

Former E-Teams report exciting news!

Ecovative Design has signed a deal with Ford Motors to produce car parts made from fungi. Read the story...

Sproxil will appear on CNN Africa Marketplace today and over the weekend. Here's the schedule:

  • 2:45pm ET: Friday, April 1
  • 8:45pm ET: Friday, April 1
  • 1:15am ET: Saturday, April 2
  • 2:15am ET: Sunday, April 3


Message from Davos

NCIIA grantee and Ecovative Design CEO, Eben Bayer, is attending the annual meeting in Davos. He's blogging about his experiences.


Ecovative's green packaging is mushrooming!


Take a tour of NCIIA grantee Ecovative Design's plant with PBS's Nightly Business Report, and get the behind-the-scenes view on how fungi is transformed into packaging material. And read Huffington Post's article.










Are mushrooms the new plastic? And, survive a housefire....

Mushrooms and how they can save the planet... Eben Bayer of former E-team Ecovative Design spoke at the TED Conference in Oxford, England, about his company's great idea: Ecocradle, a biodegradable replacement for styrofoam. Watch Eben's talk.

It's National Fire Prevention Week. The Today Show called on Ryan O'Donnell of past E-team Bullex Digital Safety to help demonstrate how to escape from a burning house. See the clip.


Apply for an E-Team grant!

Want to create a great company like Ecovative Design or Bullex Digital Safety? NCIIA awards grants worth up to $20,000 to help student teams develop their technology. E-team grant applications are due Dec. 3. Read more and apply!


Ecovative's sustainable packaging adopted by Steelcase

Former E-Team Ecovative Design has partnered with Steelcase to supply the office furniture designer and manufacturer with green packaging materials for its product lines. Ecovative's 'Ecocradle' packaging material, made up of agricultural byproducts bound together with mushroom roots, is a sustainable alternative to styrofoam.

See the full story at Fast Company.




Insulating your home with...mushrooms?

RPI E-Team Ecovative Design challenges the norm in the building industry

Open up the walls of just about any new home and you’ll find the same thing: two sheets of plywood sandwiching an insulating foam core. Known as Structural Insulating Panels, or SIPS, the approach is gaining popularity in the building industry because it’s cheap and effective. Unfortunately the foam insulation in SIPS is also environmentally damaging, requiring petroleum to produce, and it isn’t biodegradable, eventually ending up in landfills.

An E-Team from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is looking to change all that with an environmentally friendly, cradle- to-cradle insulating material they call Greensulate. The twist? Greensulate is made primarily from oyster mushrooms. Not exactly your typical approach to home insulation, but challenging the status quo and coming up with novel approaches is a trademark of the growing green building industry—and of innovators in general.

So how does it work? You start by combining perlite (a material used in potting soil), vermiculite (a mineral), water, starch, hydrogen peroxide, and mushroom cells. Pour the mixture into a panel mold, put it in a dark place, and wait. Over the course of one to two weeks, the mushroom cells digest the starch and form mycelium, tiny unicellular fibers similar to the roots of a tree. When the fibers intertwine, they form a rigid insulating material.1 Dry the panel to prevent fungal growth and voila: you’ve got a low-cost, organic composite board that requires no petroleum to produce and biodegrades at the end of its life cycle.

The idea to use mushrooms for insulating material came through a happy mix of personal experience and innovative coursework. Eben Bayer, co-founder of the team, was raised on a Vermont farm and learned gourmet mushroom harvesting from his father. Bayer put that knowledge to good use in school, hitting upon the idea for Greensulate while working on a sustainable housing assignment in Burt Swersey’s Inventor’s Studio course at RPI. Swersey urged him to develop the idea further, and Bayer soon brought in Gavin McIntyre, an RPI student with a keen interest in sustainable technology.

The two meshed, quickly winning Advanced E-Team funding, taking first place in the inaugural ASME I-Show competition, and winning the 21st Century Challenge Competition hosted by Oxford University’s Said Business School.

“Winning the E-Team and other funding was a critical step for us in building our business,” said Bayer. “It came at exactly the right time, as we were making the leap from an institutional research product to a growing company.”

The two graduated from RPI, but instead of taking jobs with other companies they incorporated as Ecovative Design ( to pursue the opportunity full-time. Why go the risky entrepreneurial route instead of taking more secure jobs?

“The excitement of doing something great for the world,” according to Bayer. “It was an intimidating choice at the time, but we’re both thrilled to have made it.”

For McIntyre, the final factor in deciding to start a company around the technology was the Advanced Invention to Venture program hosted by the NCIIA. “The knowledge that we gained from the workshop gave us such a strong footing to initiate the venture,” he said.

What’s on the docket for Ecovative now that they’re a real company? For one, they’re working on ASTM compliance certification for the insulating board, work that will be completed this summer and fall under a grant from the State of New York. Further research and development still needs to be done on the board itself, and the team estimates it won’t be commercially available for at least a year. They are, however, actively pursuing commercialization and manufacturing partners.

And Ecovative isn’t stopping at green insulating material. Bayer and McIntyre view Ecovative Design as a research firm dedicated to generating a suite of environmentally friendly products for a variety of markets. They made their first real sale recently: a plant pot for home gardens that rapidly breaks down once placed in the soil, acting as a fertilizer.

Next in the pipeline is Negative Volume, a green replacement for styrofoam packaging material. Negative Volume is produced using agricultural byproducts and is entirely compostable, so when you’re done unpacking that new computer, toss the peanuts in the garden. They make excellent fertilizer. It’s that kind of sustainable thinking that could very well guide Ecovative Design to great success.


1. From “Organic Insulation” by Susan Cosier,

Ecovative on Fox Small Business...and Time!

Watch this great video about former E-team Ecovative Design (and get a glimpse of their new plant), from the Fox Small Business Center.


NewsTracker - NCIIA's work in the news


Ducha Halo portable shower (Sept 2011)

Solar sanitation system (Sept 2011)

InfantAIR ventilator for newborns (Sept 2011)

Brilliance jaundice treatment incubator (Sept 2011)

Sproxil anti-counterfeit drug texting system.(Sept 2011)


Invention of the Year 2011: Antenatal Screening Kit

Lightweight Solar Panels that Mimic Ivy (Solar Ivy, 2010)

Invention of the Year 2010: OneBreath ventilator

Invention of the Year 2009: Ecovative Design


Tinkerers saving the world (2011)

Women innovators saving the world: with NCIIA grantees Tricia Compas and Teresita Cochran (2011)

Steelcase adopts the Ecocradle packaging system (2010)

Most innovative companies: GoodGuide (2010)


 Industrial strength mushrooms (2010)


America's best young entrepreneurs: Lifeserve Innovations (2010)

NCIIA's best student innovators (2009)

Recent articles

Therapeutic Systems (local story in Hampshire Daily Gazette)

Therapeutic Systems keeping up the pressure (Oct. 2011)

Under 30s making it happen (Joseph Steig byline in Xconomy - Oct. 2011)

Balancing needs and discovery in biomedical engineering education (Aug. 2011)

Ecovative Design receives equity funding (May 2011)

ABC NCIIA's best student teams (Open Minds) '11 NCIIA's Open Minds '11

Innovation News Daily: NCIIA's Open Minds 2011 NCIIA's Open Minds 2011

Ecovative partners with Ford to make car components (April 2011)

Huffington Post story and PBS video: Ecovative Design's packaging innovation (2011)

NewsTracker 2010

NewsTracker 2009






NPR highlights Ecovative Design as one of the year's coolest innovations

In his latest look at the year's coolest inventions, NPR's Guy Raz interviews Eben Bayer of Ecovative Design, a 2007 NCIIA E-Team. Listen to the interview or read the transcript... Some key takeways: Greensulate and Ecocradle perform as well as synthetic products, but require a fraction of the energy to produce; Greensulate and Ecocradle are formed from natural materials and processes (so, waste packaging should end up in your compost bin, not a landfill); while you could eat Greensulate, it wouldn't taste good. 

Update: More kudos for Ecovative: 'One to watch' as noted by Popular Science.



'It's Greensulate' - CSI-NY goes high tech; features Ecovative Design!

Product placement at its best. CSI-NY's latest episode has gone high-tech, featuring Ecovative Design's Greensulate as a critical clue, complete with burning test. View it here, fast forward to 25:20 (we think the show should have cast Eben as the lab technician)!

Ecovative Design wins U.S. Department of Energy award

Former E-Team Ecovative Design has won the top prize at the DoE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory's Clean Energy Venture Awards. Ecovative received the Best Venture award, winning $10,000. The award is the latest in many successes for the former E-Team, which manufactures compostable alternatives to styrofoam and insulation.




Fast Company story: Eco-designs that are reducing waste

Check this story from Fast Company about the eco-designs that are 'reimagining the detritus of our daily lives.' The list includes former NCIIA E-Team Ecovative Design and their 'Ecocradle' packaging material.   



CNN: Young people who rock

Each year, CNN profiles a select group of young people who are rocking the world. Former NCIIA E-Team Ecovative Design, who has developed a green replacement for styrofoam and building insulation, was recently featured.












Greensulate (Ecovative)

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 2007 - $15,815

Household energy use accounts for one-fifth of the total energy consumed annually in the US. Better insulation would lead to a reduction in energy consumption, but today's most popular forms of insulation have significant drawbacks in the form of health risks, high cost, and large environmental footprints.

This E-Team developed Greensulate, an environmentally friendly home insulation material. Greensulate is a composite board made up of insulating particles suspended in a matrix of mycelium-growth-stage mushroom cells. This mushroom-based insulation is biodegradable, low cost, produces no pollution in the manufacturing process, and insulates as well as competing products.

They've since focused on developing and selling Ecocradle, a green alternative to polystyrene/Styrofoam packaging.

Update: the team is now incorporated as Ecovative Design. The company won 500,000 euros at Picnic Green Challenge 2008, the world's premier green ideas conference, in Amsterdam, received SBIR Phase I funding from the EPA, and won the DoE's Renewable Energy Laboratory's Clean Energy Venture Awards. Click here to visit their website.


Postalcode Lottery at it again: €500,000 business plan competition

Last year, Venture Well cohort member and NCIIA E-Team grantee Ecovative Design  won €500,000 (about US$700,000) in the PostalCode Lottery Green Challenge. Deadline for submissions for this year is July 31.

Read more about the competition.

'Green' styrofoam? Ecovative Design in the New York Times

Former NCIIA E-Team Ecovative Design are making a name for themselves in the green packaging arena. Read more about their green (fungi) replacement for styrofoam at the New York Times.

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