Ecovative Design LLC: A Biological Materials Startup
Ecovative Designs (Ecovative), a start-up company in upstate New York, uses an innovative process to combine agricultural waste and mycelium (mushroom “roots”) to grow forms for use in a wide variety of applications, especially a protective packaging material. Not only does this new product replace the need for the environmentally harmful alternative, extruded polystyrene, but the production process is less energy intensive. It exemplifies the cradle-to-cradle design indicative of a sustainably embedded product and attractive to companies looking to reduce their carbon footprint. In just a few years, Ecovative has expanded from a lab to a large facility funded partly through research grants and partly from contracts with two large corporations. In 2013, the partners are considering whether to sign a contract with Sealed Air, one of the largest distributors of packaging materials in the world, but the deal would mean relinquishing control over the only profitable segment of their company. They are considering alternative growth strategies to find the one that fits best with their goal: to have the largest impact on the planet while remaining profitable.
- To understand what an embedded sustainability business looks like and how its sustainable innovation can be profitably scaled up in order to achieve significant environmental impact.
- To explore various growth strategies and channels by which a company can make its product available to a larger market.
United States, Small, 2011
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