Capital Region Business Beat: Ecovative "Growing" Their Business

GREEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- What do packaging material, insulation, and surfboards have in common?

To Ecovative in Green Island, the answer is mushrooms.

"They serve as an adhesive or a glue, binding those things together," said Gavin McIntyre

McIntyre said if you combine the mushrooms with waste from local farms you can grow replacements for foams and plastics.

"The mushroom roots grow, they digest some of that farm waste, converting it right into the materials that you see on our shelves today," McIntyre said.

Mushrooms and farm waste are two main ingredients that launched Ecovative's mushroom technology into success.

"We do everything from production of packaging, to furniture parts, and even research development and engineering."

Ecovative is a material science company that was started in 2007 by RPI students Gavin McIntyre and Eben Bayer. It began in an RPI classroom and now has its headquarters in Green Island.

McIntyre and Eben Bayer said they wanted to find a cheaper and eco-friendly alternative to making replacements for foams and plastics.

From there, the company basically grew itself.

"They (mushrooms) do the manufacturing for us which allows us to be at the same price point as traditional plastic foams," McIntyre said.

To date, Ecovative employs more than 70 people between its Green Island headquarters and another facility in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Their customers include the Sealed Air Corporation and most recently, Gunlocke Furniture, where they're using its technology to make the backs of chairs.

"They're basically 100 percent bio-based product that could meet the compound curvatures that they (Gunlocke Furniture) needed for the chair back as well as coming in under the cost of what the plywood product they would be purchasing otherwise."

Ecovative recently launched a"Grow it Yourself" kit where customers can grow their own creation.

"You can take our materials and grow your own products in your own kitchen, anything from a beehive to your own kayak," said McIntyre.

If grow it yourself isn't for you, don't worry, Ecovative also plans to keep growing its products and business in the future.

For more information on Ecovative, go to

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