Green Island, NY – In an open letter thanking American taxpayers for providing critical start-up funding to help grow the sustainable materials company Ecovative Design, its co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, Gavin McIntyre, outlined taxpayers’ return on investments including 80+ jobs created, two manufacturing facilities opened, and a line of healthy and environmentally friendly products commercialized.
A leading biomaterials company, Ecovative pioneered the use of mushroom materials to grow high performance, cost-competitive, award-winning products—including MycoBoard™ panels for furniture and construction, MycoFoam™ packaging materials, and other consumer goods—that are healthy, environmentally friendly, and certified sustainable. Ecovative products enable customers—including Fortune 500 companies, international mills and furniture makers—to meet design, production, and delivery needs while achieving sustainability goals.
Noting the challenges of financing a manufacturing and biomaterials start-up, McIntyre wrote, “We were too early stage and potentially too capital intensive to garner the interest of traditional private VC’s in good economic times, and 2007-2008 were not good economic times. We were proposing to create an entire new industry, based on an entire class of new materials science. Let’s face it, we were a high risk bet. What we needed was an angel investor, and we found our angel in Washington, D.C.at the federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.”
The federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program has been “fundamental” to the growth of Ecovative, according to McIntyre. “Initial Federal investments in our early high risk research led to commercialization of MycoFoam™, our sustainable packaging that is an environmental friendly replacement for products like Styrofoam™. Essential Federal support for the underlying research also helped us bring MycoBoard™ to market, and it is now being used by manufacturers to create healthy furniture, free of formaldehyde and other toxic resins,” according to McIntyre
Via the SBIR program, Ecovative has received Federal funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF)($2.3 million), the US Department of Agriculture (USDA)($780,000), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)($740,000). Ecovative was founded in 2007, and received its first SBIR program related grant in 2008. Ecovative also has received government support from New York State.
Noting Ecovative’s expanding ROI for taxpayers, McIntyre wrote, “We continue to grow our products, people, and facilities. We employ people across the spectrum from scientists, architects, and engineers, to equipment operators, technicians, and administrative staff. We purchase raw materials from domestic farmers, and we sell sustainable, compostable products to other manufacturers across the U.S.”
“We started as two guys and an idea to change the world a little bit,” he wrote of himself and co-founder and CEO Eben Bayer. “When we were just a seed of an idea, you invested in us, and your continued investments nurtured us along the way. Look what, together, we have grown. Thank you for investing in our company and in our collective future.”
In 2013 Ecovative received the SBA’s prestigious Tibbetts Award honoring high-tech small businesses “for the critical role they play in research and development for the government and for their success in driving innovation and creating new jobs.” SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet cited Ecovative’s investment success story, in a February 2016 speech on the State of Entrepreneurship in the United States. Administrator Contreras-Sweet is the voice of entrepreneurs in President Obama’s Cabinet.
The GES2016, hosted by President Barack Obama, June 23-24, at Stanford University in California, convened more than 700 entrepreneurs and investors from 170 countries. McIntyre participated in a panel on “Technology for Entrepreneurship with Social Impact.” Moderated by U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), Deputy Administrator Doug Kramer, the panel also included: Adam Atkinson-Lewis, VP, International Business Development, Natal Energy, Inc.; Gyanda Sachdeva, Director, Product Management, LinkedIn; and Jim Fruchterman, Founder and CEO, Benetech.
To read McIntyre’s GES2016 blog go to: Investing in the Growth of Our Collective Future
For information on the Federal SBIR program go to: https://www.sbir.gov/