3M Invests In Maker Of Eco-Friendly Foam Alternative

3M Invests In Maker Of Eco-Friendly Foam Alternative

3M, which was among a group that in 2011 invested in Ecovative Design, has increased its investment by an undisclosed sum.

A New York-based company that uses mushroom roots to make compostable alternatives to plastic foams recently announced that it raised $14 million in equity financing from new and existing investors.

Among those investors is Maplewood-based 3M Company, which first invested in the firm two years ago.

Ecovative Design, LLC, said its latest round included funding from 3M and the Netherlands-based DOEN Foundation, although it did not disclose the terms of each party’s investment.

Ecovative, which was founded in 2007, said it uses a “patent protected mycelium-based technology to grow 100 percent home-compostable, cost- and performance-competitive composites that replace plastic foams currently used in products such as protective packaging, automotive components, building and construction materials, shoes, and floral foam, among other applications.”

It uses “mycelium,” a “self-assembling glue” that comes from mushroom roots, for its eco-friendly packaging line, which is called Mushroom Packaging.

The company said it has also developed a “high-performing, cost-competitive, and lighter-weight engineered wood replacement that eliminates the need for expensive and toxic glues currently used in existing engineered wood products.”

3M announced in 2011 that was among a group that had invested in Ecovative, saying at the time that Ecovative would use the funding to scale its manufacturing operations and accelerate the development of its polymeric materials.

“Ecovative has the kind of disruptive, breakthrough technology that can be a game-changer in various industries including automotive, construction, and architecture,” Stefan Gabriel, president of 3M New Ventures, the company’s investment arm, said at the time. Gabriel said 3M expected the partnership to “enhance 3M’s footprint in sustainable polymer technologies.”

When announcing its latest funding, Ecovative said it recently opened a new Iowa facility to support growth, and it plans to add more packaging facilities in Europe and Asia.

3M is among Minnesota's five largest public companies based on its revenue, which totaled $29.9 billion in 2012.