The New Yorker’s “Form and Fungus” Shows How Student-led Invention and Innovation can Lead to Technologies and Companies with the Power to Change the World

The New Yorker’s “Form and Fungus” Shows How Student-led Invention and Innovation can Lead to Technologies and Companies with the Power to Change the World

Tuesday, May 21, 2013 - 9:00am

CONTENT: Press Release

Hadley, Mass., May 21, 2013 /3BL Media/ - The National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA) helps move student innovations out of the classroom, out of the lab, and into the marketplace to improve people’s lives, as evidenced by an article in a special Innovators Edition of The New Yorker magazine on newsstands this week. While the story, Form and Fungus, primarily focuses on the success of two young entrepreneurs, their technology, and the mentor who inspired them, it underscores the potential for widespread student invention and innovation on college campuses and universities. With support from the NCIIA for such programs, students learn how to turn their ideas into inventions and highly successful companies.

Form and Fungus (by Ian Frazier) tells the journey of two Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) graduates, Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre who have – under the tutelage of RPI professor Burt Swersey – created a line of mushroom-based biodegradable products for use in packing, building, automotive, and other applications through their rapidly growing company, Ecovative. The underlying technological inventions of Ecovative emerged as a student project in Mr. Swersey’s course, Inventors Studio, which was initially funded by the NCIIA.

Ecovative is one of 180 companies launched as a result of significant investment from NCIIA in innovation and entrepreneurship programming in higher education. In addition to supporting Inventors Studio, NCIIA provided early stage funding for Mr. Bayer’s and Mr. McIntyre’s technology while they were still graduate students.

“Ecovative and Inventors Studio are great examples of higher education programming to facilitate the invention and innovation process from the dawn of a new idea to the achievement of scalable and sustainable technologies that benefit society,” said Phil Weilerstein, Executive Director of the NCIIA.

NCIIA and its membership of 200 colleges and universities promote change in science and engineering education by advocating for and supporting future-leaning curriculum that captures the imagination of students who want to create technologies to solve the world’s most pressing problems. With 17 years of support from The Lemelson Foundation, NCIIA gives students and faculty the tools to become actors in technology development and commercialization. The examples of Ecovative and Inventors Studio show that new venture formation and job creation through the development of student-led technologies can be tangible and world-changing outcomes of educational opportunities and can be replicated on campuses throughout the nation.


The NCIIA catalyzes positive social and environmental impact through invention and technological innovation by providing funding, training and mentoring for university faculty and student innovators. With support from The Lemelson Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the US Agency for International Development and a membership of nearly 200 colleges and universities from all over the United States, the NCIIA engages approximately 5,000 student entrepreneurs each year, leveraging their campuses as working laboratories for invention and innovation and incubators for businesses, and ultimately helping them to bring their ideas to market. For more information, visit

About The Lemelson Foundation:

The Lemelson Foundation uses the power of invention to improve lives, by inspiring and enabling the next generation of inventors and invention based enterprises to promote economic growth in the US and social and economic progress for the poor in developing countries. Established by prolific US inventor Jerome Lemelson and his wife Dorothy in 1992, to date the Foundation has provided or committed more than $175 million in grants and program-related investments in support of its mission. For more information, visit