This week, New York’s Ecovative, which produces plant-based biomaterials as a sustainable alternative to petrochemicals in textiles and packaging, announced that it has received a $60 million Series D venture round to scale its industrial production of mycelium, which is derived from mushrooms, to key global markets. The round, which brings Ecovative’s total capital raised to $100M, was led by Greenwich, Connecticut private equity firm Viking Global Investors, with participation from New York City hedge fund Senator Investment Group, impact venture capital investor AiiM Partners, Trousdale Ventures and other investors.
Since it was founded in 2007, Ecovative has produced mycelium materials for partners throughout North America, Europe and Asia. According to Ecovative, the Series D capital round will fund will support the expansion of its next-generation biofabrication platform, the Mycelium Foundry and support another 10x boost in production.
Mycelium, the root structure of mushrooms, has a unique biology that can be leveraged to grow materials that self-assemble into complex, fully-formed structures. Ecovative’s use cases in consumer end products are varied and fascinating: the stuff is used as a petroleum-alternative input in the apparel industry, where it is used as a thermal filler in outerwear; as a vegan alternative to leather; as a food additive to provide structural fiber in plant-based meats; as a biodegradable alternative to the foam used in cosmetic and skincare applicators; and as a key ingredient in packaging.
“Mycelium is a unique material that outperforms other sustainable alternatives in industries as diverse as fashion and food,” said Evan Lodes, Partner at Senator Investment Group and Ecovative board member. “Ecovative pioneered the field of mycelium materials, and has invested in the research and development necessary to deliver it at the scale and cost required to make a significant impact.” Senator Investment Group also participated in a 2019 raise for Ecovative.
“The demand for new biomaterials in the fashion industry, such as mycelium, far outstrips the current supply. Ecovative is tackling this challenge head-on, committing to building a next-generation platform capable of producing mycelium at scale,” said Katrin Ley, Managing Director of sustainable fashion accelerator Fashion For Good.
Across industries, brands are exploring the use of biomaterials to improve their sustainability profiles, but finding high-performance materials that can be produced at industrial scale remains a challenge. Ecovative developed its trademarked AirMycelium manufacturing platform to produce mycelium at industrial scale, and recently activated 100,000 pounds per year of new manufacturing capacity to support growing demand from partners, ranging from packaging suppliers to tanneries, for custom mycelium solutions.
“Ecovative’s deep experience in mushrooms has enabled a high throughput discovery platform that is yielding solutions that are scaling through new biomanufacturing technology,” said Shally Shanker, Founder and Managing Partner of AiiM Partners. “This will play a key role in solving (or accelerating solutions to) substantive problems like climate emissions and toxic material waste.”
“Today’s investment in our next-generation Mycelium Foundry will produce immediate results for our business and the planet,” said Eben Bayer, CEO and Co-Founder of Ecovative. “We have a track record of scaling and shipping mycelium-based products. This growth will accelerate our deployment of these important solutions at greater scale and across more industries.”
In addition to the venture round, Ecovative also announced today that Steve Sherwood, Chairman of real estate investment company CWS Capital Partners, will be joining the company’s board. The new financing comes on the heels of Ecovative’s partnership with UK packaging licensee Magical Mushroom Company, which recently announced the opening of four more facilities to supply the UK and EU markets with green packaging solutions.