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Jeff Betts

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Jeff Betts
Mushroom Materials

Organization: Ecovative Design LLC

What are Mushroom Materials?

Ecovative works with nature to replace plastics, foams, and other harmful materials with a new high performance, mycelium-based biomaterial platform technology.

THE PROBLEM

The most commonly used protective and insulating materials, like polystyrene, have extreme environmental impacts as well as allergic irritants and health concerns. A net positive impact requires eliminating the negative environmental impacts of production, growing products that sequester carbon, and a distribution system that restores nutrients back to Earth upon disposal.

THE INNOVATION

Ecovative’s technology resolves critical concerns for waste, energy, and consumer health. The products are a completely biodegradable replacement for polystyrene, packing material or insulation. They can withstand heat, stress and exposure to water, yet be composted in your back garden. This biotechnology is derived from mushrooms and can potentially replace numerous products that produce CO2 while permitting the ongoing utilization of otherwise low-value agricultural byproducts.

“These 3-D Myco Fabrics can be composted at the end of their useful life. Unlike many biopolymers such as PLA, these biomaterials can be composted in low temperature home compost piles, and they will break down naturally. Rather than becoming a burden on communities at the end of their useful life, Ecovative’s Mushroom Materials add nutrients to the soil.” – Sam Harrington, Ecovative

Stage of Innovation: Commercial market/Deployment

THE VISION

Ecovative’s long-term goal is to become the first bio-industrial age company with a net positive impact on the planet’s ecosystem. Its clean, energy efficient manufacturing process is comparable to indoor mushroom farming. The technology offers a platform designed to be scaled for local production of materials based on regional economies and agricultural supplies anywhere in the world.

“For Ecovative, the recycling and upcycling of nutrients is the gold standard for material systems. Ecovative’s long-term goal is to become the first bio-industrial age company with a net positive impact on the planet’s ecosystem.” – Sam Harrington, Ecovative

Download the Ecovative forum presentation

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Innovator News

March 04, 2017

By Davar Ardalan

Constraints on the planet are driving demand for resource-efficient and closed-loop products, services, and corporate models. But how do we create circular systems, material streams, and new business structures to support the transition to this new paradigm? This week’s LAUNCH Circular Innovation Summit brings together leading researchers, entrepreneurs, investors, and business executives at Nike’s world headquarters in Portland, Oregon to find ways to be more efficient, effective, and economically viable with the limited resources on planet Earth.

Sustainability is a galvanizing force behind Nike’s global growth with about 71 percent of the iconic company’s shoes and apparel contain recycled materials. So it wasn’t surprising when Cyrus Wadia, Nike’s VP of Sustainable Business & Innovation, set a moon-shot challenge to a room full of innovators, industry pioneers, and a former NASA astronaut, at this week’s summit.

“At Nike, we believe that our future growth will depend on a healthy planet for athletes everywhere. This means not just reducing our use of finite resources, but using new resources born out of tomorrow’s innovative technologies. To get there, we will need breakthrough innovation from diverse and unexpected communities working together. That’s what makes LAUNCH and its mission so important. Today’s ideas can grow into tomorrow’s solutions.” said Wadia.

Astronaut Cady Coleman shared her perspective from the ultimate circular habitat — the International Space Station. “Traveling to Mars and creating a sustainable way to live here on Earth are both imperatives,” Coleman said. “What we do today, using the space station as a test bed, matters for that journey to Mars; what happens at this Circular Innovation Summit matters for a sustainable journey here on Earth.”


Former NASA Astronaut Cady Coleman addressing the LAUNCH Circular Innovation Summit in Portland. (LONGFEI WANG)

Established in 2009, LAUNCH is an innovation-centered platform founded on the belief that today’s problems are too big to be solved by any one organization working alone. Original partners NASA, the US Agency for International Development, the US Department of State, and NIKE, Inc. joined together back then to identify, showcase, and support innovative technologies to help solve global sustainability challenges. LAUNCH helps convene and curate networks of unlikely public and private partnerships to accelerate innovations and disrupt pathways for change.

LAUNCH co-founder Todd Khozein said that since its inception some 100 innovations have been sourced and scaled through the LAUNCH process. Take Kiverdi, for example, a revolutionary bioprocess, which converts carbon dioxide into protein and oils. This technology involves microbial crops, which are already used in food production, and provides a sustainable alternative to animal protein to help meet global consumer demand. Kiverdi CEO Lisa Dyson explained that her company recycles air and water to produce raw materials to make nutritious foods. “We are breathing CO2 all the time,” Dyson said. “We can take CO2 and water and make ingredients for everyday foods.”

Fifteen past and present LAUNCH innovators were selected to participate in the Summit, including Jeff Betts of Evocative, a leading biomaterials company that grows living products for a circular economy, utilizing mycelium (the vegetative root structure of mushrooms) as a natural glue. “A lot of the innovations at this event are founded on chemical compounds in the lab,” Betts said. “Evocative found its innovations in the forest — we are growing these materials that are naturally appearing and naturally circular.”

Discussing some of the key systems changes that are needed to drive circular solutions, Hakan Nordkvist, head of Sustainability Innovation at IKEA Group, pointed out that one of the urgencies is to change consumer behavior. Innovations are needed to create convenience in order to engage more people in the system. “We want to have a positive impact on people and the planet, and that includes playing an active role in moving toward a circular economy,” Nordkvist said. “We are thrilled to see so many leading companies and pioneering innovators gather at the LAUNCH Summit to collaborate for a better future.”


LAUNCH partners Hakan Nordkvist, head of Sustainability Innovation at IKEA Group; Chris Librie, Senior Director for Global Impact at eBay; and Claus Stig Pedersen, head of Corporate Sustainability at the Danish company Novozymes. (MATT SCOTT)

“You can’t change a system until you know where you want to go,” said Jeff Hamaoui, co-founder of LAUNCH and Managing Partner at SecondMuse, the global innovation company that leads LAUNCH, “We think the future is a fascinating place from which to begin designing. Together with LeaderLab, our LAUNCH team in the Nordics, we’re bringing together innovators, business leaders, and resources to act now on the path to the future.

Sofus Midtgaard leads the LAUNCH circular work from Copenhagen “It’s been amazing working with so many different companies and having one of our founding partners Nike hosting this event. Our 2017 innovation challenge on design and manufacturing for the circular economy will be launched on June 5th at the World Circular Forum in Helsinki. Co-created solutions and insights from this week’s forum will be incorporated in our global challenge.” Midtgaard said.

The Summit brought together unlikely partnerships across industry and government including IKEA Group, eBay, and several Nordic government organizations and companies including Novozymes and Kvadrat. Chris Librie, Senior Director for Global Impact at eBay, explained “We make it as easy as possible for consumers to sell and participate in the power of the circular economy. By helping to extend the useful life of products, we’re giving those items the chance to have many lives and serve many people. We are excited to join this extraordinary network that nurtures innovation and drives towards systems change.”


Facebook Live interviews with LAUNCH Innovators Lisa Dyson of Kiverdi and Dan Wilson of Dow Chemicals. (MATT SCOTT)

Throughout the day, innovators at the summit will be on Twitter sharing their disruptive ideas with the digital public, coming together around #LAUNCHCircular to help build a collective voice around sustainability and social impact. In a Facebook live interview yesterday, LAUNCH innovator Vigga Svensson talked about Vigga.us, her circular subscription service for children’s wear. “Kids grow,” Svensson says “But clothes don’t.” The concept is an innovative business model that combines sustainability and fashion consumption, and makes them work together instead of against each other.

The head of Corporate Sustainability at the Danish company Novozymes, Claus Stig Pedersen, was pleased to attend the Summit. “We look forward to collaborating with leading companies, government institutions, and innovators on finding new sustainable solutions and building a roadmap to the circular economy,” he said. “Public-private partnerships are exactly what we need to help sustainable innovations get to scale.”

After a day-long session co-creating solutions for the future, LAUNCH innovator Dan Wilson of Dow Cheminformatics stressed the importance of diversity in driving revolutionary change, “We had people from many different technical disciplines and geographies all gathered together at the LAUNCH Summit, with the goal to articulate what will be necessary to achieve a circular economy; what I found myself thinking was that there’s been exponential momentum in the past decade towards achieving these goals across many fronts and so the likelihood of success I think is real, and I’m really left with a feeling of hope.”


LAUNCH Innovator Anne Waddell of BioAmber sits beneath the LAUNCH Circular hashtag and alongside network members in the midst of an innovation session.

April 22, 2016

As the LAUNCH team gears up for the start of our 2016 cycles, we thought we would take a look at some our past innovators (One from each of our five earliest cycles: Water, Health, Energy, Beyond Waste and Fabrics) and the impact that they are having on people and places throughout the world. From the Americas to Asia to South America, Africa, Australia and Europe, LAUNCH innovators are helping to address some of the world’s greatest challenges and further a more sustainable future for humanity and the planet.

Members of the EWB-LA team make use of the CBT in Tanzania.  Photo courtesy of Aqugenx.

LAUNCH WATER (2010)

Aquagenx/Compartment Bag Test

Innovator: Mark Sobsey

Website: https://www.aquagenx.com/

The Aquagenx Compartment Bag Test (CBT) is a simple, portable water quality test that lets anyone measure E. coli bacteria in water to determine if it poses a health risk. It is ideal for on-site testing in rural, low resource and disaster/emergency areas. The CBT is used by major NGOs, humanitarian relief organizations, governments, private companies and universities around the world.

In a recent example, a team from Engineers Without Borders-Los Angeles (EWB-LA) using the Aquagenx CBT while working on a project to improve the tap water system in Lulindi, Tanzania discovered that the village’s main water source was highly contaminated, mostly likely by local school latrines. This discovery enabled EWB-LA to identify safer water sources for the village.

 

LAUNCH HEALTH (2010)

Propeller Health (formerly Asthmapolis)

Innovator: David Van Sickle

Photo courtesy of Propeller Health

Website: https://www.propellerhealth.com/

Propeller is the leading digital health platform in respiratory medicine. The company has received FDA 510(k) class II clearance to measure and improve medication adherence, predict exacerbations, and help reduce the frequency of symptoms and exacerbations in asthma and COPD.

Propeller’s platform has been clinically validated in two randomized controlled trials and more than ten clinical studies involving over 1400 patients. It has been used by patients with asthma or COPD in over 40 commercial programs across the US at major healthcare systems, payers, employers and other commercial partners. Propeller is backed by Safeguard Scientifics (NYSE: SFE), Social Capital, California HealthCare Foundation, Kapor Capital and other investors, and has been recognized by the TEDMED Innovation Showcase, White House Champion of Change, and Bluetooth Breakthrough Product awards, and others.

LAUNCH Energy: 2011

Promethean Power

Innovator: Sorin Grama

Photo courtesy of Promethean Power

Website: http://www.coolectrica.com/

Promethean Power Systems designs and manufactures refrigeration systems for cold-storage applications in off-grid and partially electrified areas of developing countries. Their products enable farmers and food suppliers to reliably store and preserve perishable food items—such as milk, fruits and vegetables—without the need for expensive diesel-powered generators.

Promethean Power Systems has installed over 200 milk-chilling systems throughout rural India. Each system serves approximately 20-30 farmers who can now deliver more milk to quality conscious dairy processors. The dairies in turn collect more milk and produce higher value and higher quality products for Indian consumers.

In 2015, Promethean was awarded the VentureWell / Lemelson Sustainable Practice Award.

LAUNCH Beyond Waste (2012)

SIRUM

A pharmacy technician at one of SIRUM's recipient sites pops out donated medication in order to rebottle it and dispense it to a patient in need.  Photo courtesy of SIRUM.

Innovator: Kiah Williams

Website: http://www.sirum.org/

Using an innovative technology platform, SIRUM saves people’s lives by allowing health facilities, manufacturers, wholesalers, and pharmacies to donate unused medicine rather than destroy it.

As of 2015, SIRUM has helped donate over $5 million of medicine, enough to help almost 150,000 people get medicine they otherwise couldn't afford.

In 2015, SIRUM Co-Founder and Director and LAUNCH Innovator Kiah Williams was selected as a Forbes 30 under 30 Social Entrepreneur.

LAUNCH FABRICS (2013)

Ecovative/Mushroom Materials

Innovator: Samuel Harrington

Website: http://www.ecovativedesign.com/

A photo of mushroom packaging growing.  Photo courtesy of Ecovative.

Ecovative is a world leading biomaterials company creating and scaling environmentally-friendly products that are cost and performance competitive with conventional materials. The company currently produces and sells a variety of mushroom-based materials, including Myco Board, Myco Foam, Myco Make, Myco Flex, and Myco Grow.

In 2015 Ecovative opened a 20,000 sq. ft manufacturing plant (its second) in Troy, New York and has since produced over 68,000 Mushroom® parts there. Customers include leading industry companies, including Dell, Gunlocke and Enjoy Handplanes, among others. Swedish Home furnishings giant IKEA is considering replacing its polystyrene packaging with Ecovative’s Mushroom Packaging.

 
April 05, 2016

by Eleanor Greene

What happens when two innovators collaborate? They can make history.

That’s what Ecovative, from System Challenge: Fabric of 2013, and Connora Technologies, from Green Chemistry cycle of 2014 are doing. Those companies, along with Enjoy Handplanes, Entropy Resins and Patagonia, have teamed up to create the world’s first biodegradable handplanes.

For those not as immersed in surfing or body surfing lingo, a handplane is a small fin-like board that attaches to the hand to help body surfers gain speed and ride the waves with skill and ease. They’re generally the only piece of equipment used by bodysurfers, besides a wetsuit, so it’s important that they work well and hold up in unpredictable ocean conditions.

After the handplanes were made, the teams got perspective from a bodysurfer and owner of Sea Craft Supply Co., Sean Starky.

Enjoy Handplanes - Patagonia from Steve Cachero Studios on Vimeo.

“I’ve broken countless surfboards, and countless handplanes. I’ve ridden this on the north shore of Oahu, I’ve ridden this at Wedge’s [Newport Beach, California] last swell, and this thing is more durable than anything I’ve ever used. And that’s the most amazing part, you get stoked on where this thing comes from, and then it rides amazing and it’s amazingly durable,” Starky said.

In the video, Ed Lewis, co-founder of Enjoy Handplanes, making compostable handplanes is a challenge because by nature they’re constantly submerged in ocean water. The core of the boards that have been developed through this collaboration are made from Ecovative’s mushroom-based materials, which are compostable.

“In order to solve that problem, we teamed up with Connora, because they have this resin that’s got a chemical zipper that lets you take something that you made in plastic, and lets you soak it a biological chemical with vinegar, and then it lets you dissolve it, save all the plastic, reuse it in injection molding, then take the core of it and compost it,” Lewis explained.

Rey Banatao, LAUNCH innovator and CEO of Connora Technologies said that this collaboration made sense with the environmental vision he has for his company’s products.

“It’s a natural match for us to want to work with together and with the new Enjoy Handplane with Ecovative, we’re giving these things an end-of-life story.”

January 09, 2015

Forbes has announced their 30 Under 30 list which features a pair of LAUNCH innovators from past challenges. Eben Bayer, 29 and Gavin McIntyre, 29 are recognized on the Forbes list for their work using mycelium to create mushroom-materials through their firm Ecovative. Ecovative’s technology resolves critical concerns for waste, energy, and consumer health. The products are a completely biodegradable replacement for polystyrene, packing material or insulation. They can withstand heat, stress and exposure to water, yet be composted in your back garden. Sam Harrington presented on behalf of Ecovative at our LAUNCH System Challenge: Fabrics Forum in 2014. Also featured on the Forbes list is Kiah Williams from SIRUM. SIRUM’s online platform connects unopened, unexpired medicines from health facilities, manufacturers and wholesalers with the needs of patients in safety-net clinics and coordinates all of a donation’s logistics including itemized drug manifests, tracking and shipping. SIRUM was chosen as a LAUNCH: Beyond Waste innovator in 2013. LAUNCH congratulates the Ecovative and SIRUM team members for their hard work and accomplishments leading to their placements on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list.

March 19, 2014

Wired.com features LAUNCH Alumni Ecovative in this article titled "This Lamp Is Grown From Mushrooms". Ecovative worked with Brooklyn-based studio Danielle Trofe Design to create the Mush Lume lamp. Wired writes, "Aesthetically, the Mush-Lume was crafted to pay homage to the unconventional material from which it sprang." Ecovative was on of 10 finalists chosen in the 2013 LAUNCH Systems Challenge.

October 23, 2013
We are proud to share that Ecovative, a LAUNCH: Systems innovator, has won the Buckminster Fuller Challenge this year.
"Each year, the Buckminster Fuller Institute awards $100,000 to support the development and implementation of a solution that has significant potential to solve one of humanity’s most pressing problems."
 
Ecovative works with nature to replace plastics, foams, and other harmful materials with a new high performance, mycelium-based biomaterial platform technology.
Congratulations Sam and team!