The mycelium (mushroom) market is heating up with New York on the radar for grown-in-America innovation.
On Tuesday, materials innovation firm Ecovative announced $60 million in Series D funding, bringing its total funding to $100 million. Investors include Viking Global Investors, with support from Senator Investment Group, AiiM Partners and Trousdale Ventures, among others.
One of the first firms to pioneer modern-day mycelium innovations, Ecovative builds on more than a decade of experience with partners in North America, Europe and Asia. Both Dell and Ikea are among its clients, as Ecovative’s mycelium solutions range from packaging to textiles, as well as custom solutions.
“As the pioneer of one of the core technologies used to make mycelium materials, we are building on our original innovations and productivity gains to take mycelium to its next stage of development — mass consumer access,” said Ecovative’s cofounder and chief executive officer Eben Bayer.
Since 2010, Ecovative has boasted commercial scale by building and licensing operations, including large-scale aerial mycelium farms worldwide.
MycoFlex is Ecovative’s 100 percent bio-based alternative to petroleum-based foams. Its substitution is possible in glove liners, backpack straps, footwear and more. It boasts higher heat resistance than plastic and better insulating properties, per the firm’s research.
Fall 2021 Trend: Maxi vs Mini
The funding will build out Ecovative’s Mycelium Foundry, a 35,000-square-foot facility based upstate in Green Island, N.Y., which serves as a playground for research and development, as well as production.
Bayer said the region offers talent from “a variety of industries and a long history of engineering excellence,” including General Electric Research and Regeneron pharmaceuticals among them.
“While our HQ is located here, we will ultimately build farms next to tanning/finishing/manufacturing facilities around the world. The technology is being developed and perfected in New York in order to be deployed all over the world,” said Bayer, calling the foundry the first “high throughput mycelium research facility in the world” for employing technologies unique to Ecovative.
Through the AirMycelium manufacturing platform, Ecovative fine-tunes characteristics like porosity, texture, strength, resilience and fiber orientation with production capacity at a scale of 100,000 pounds per year.
Capital will also go toward increasing production scale tenfold, something that is sorely needed for many bio-based textile innovations. Brands want in, too.
“The demand for new biomaterials in the fashion industry, such as mycelium, far outstrips the current supply,” Katrin Ley, managing director of Fashion For Good, said in a statement. Ecovative was part of Fashion For Good’s innovation platform in 2018, which also counted Natural Fiber Welding, Inc., an Illinois-based firm that sustainable footwear company Allbirds recently invested $2 million in to develop “Plant Leather.”
For natural materials, competition is stiff and nuances are many. Biotech start-ups like MycoWorks with its Reishi leather innovation recently partnered with Hermès, while Bolt Threads’ Mylo is a repeat material of choice for Stella McCartney and Adidas. As with competitors, Ecovative’s mycelium material is biodegradable over time — with its raw mycelium materials being at-home compostable in soil.
For More, See:
MycoWorks Closes $45M in Series B Upping Capacity for Reishi Leather
Why Allbirds Is Investing $2 Million in Natural Fiber Welding
Source: Read Full Article