Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute lecturer Burt Swersey and graduate Eben Bayer `07, cofounder and chief executive officer of Ecovative, will participate today in a live interview as part of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Disruptive Innovation Festival.
The live interview, titled “Eben Bayer - An Entrepreneur's Story,” will begin at 11 a.m. EDT. Register here to watch the interview at: http://thinkdif.co/headliners/eben-bayer. Questions for Bayer and Swersey can be submitted via the website during the course of the interview.
Joining Swersey and Bayer will be Daan Laméris, investment manager at the DOEN Foundation, an early Ecovative investor. Founded in 2008 by Bayer and fellow Rensselaer graduate, Gavin McIntyre `07, Ecovative is now the global leader in using mushroom-based materials to create high-performing, cost-competitive alternatives to products like styrene and urea-formaldehyde. The company is based in Green Island, N.Y.
Ecovative’s roots are in a course Bayer and McIntyre took while students at Rensselaer. Swersey has taught the Inventors Studio course at Rensselaer since 1999. The semester-long capstone design experience for engineering seniors helps students learn to identify, understand, and solve open-ended problems. Student work in the course has resulted in five patents, with several more pending. Bayer and McIntyre were students in Inventors Studio in 2007, and founded Ecovative after graduation. Swersey has continued to work with them as a mentor and investor in the company.
Swersey, a lecturer in the School of Engineering at Rensselaer, holds 14 U.S. patents and was the founder of Brookline Instrument Company in 1962 and American Scale Corporation in 1973. He is the recipient of several recognitions, including the 2007 Olympus Lifetime of Educational Innovation Award from Olympus Corp., and the 2014 Sustainable Practice Impact Award from the Lemelson Foundation and the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance.
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Disruptive Innovation Festival brings together thought leaders, entrepreneurs, businesses, makers, learners, and doers to catalyze system-level change for a future economy. Over four weeks using a mix of online and face-to-face events, participants are invited to explore the economy through a different lens.