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April 6, 2022

Sustainable textile innovations win $1m from H&M Foundation

A laundry solution that prolongs garments’ life, and an AI technology helping smallholder cotton farmers to increase yield and income are among the five Global Change Award winners sharing a EUR1m (U$1.09m) grant from the non-profit H&M Foundation.

By Beth Wright

Non-profit H&M Foundation has named the winners of its 2022 Global Change Award which was launched in 2015 to transform fashion and make it planet positive, in order for the industry to fulfil the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. That means finding and supporting disruptive innovations that address one or several of the earth’s global commons – land, water, oceans, climate and biodiversity. As the aim is to find innovations that allow major change for the entire industry the winners are free to collaborate with any actor they want.

“The winners of the Global Change Award hold the key to the complex challenges we are facing and prove that it’s possible to reinvent fashion. Their game-changing innovations are really inspiring and can help transform the fashion industry into a planet positive one,” says Karl-Johan Persson, board member of H&M Foundation and chairman of H&M Group.

In addition to the financial grant, all five winners also get access to the one-year GCA Impact Accelerator programme provided by H&M Foundation in partnership with Accenture, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, and The Mills, offering the winners coaching and support.

The GCA Impact Accelerator aims to help the winning ideas scale at speed through business, technology, investor and innovation readiness, and industry access. It also offers winners a mix of digital sessions and meetups at key locations.

This year’s winners are:

  • BioPuff by saltyco (UK) – A planet positive alternative to goose down, crafted from plants that heal damaged land.
  • Biorestore (Sweden) – A laundry solution that restores old and worn garments to mint condition.
  • CottonAce by Wadhwani AI (India) – An AI solution that reduces pesticide use, increases yield and raises incomes for smallholder cotton farmers.
  • Re:lastane (China) – The first mild process making elastane and polyester blend fabrics recyclable.
  • Rubi (US) – Planet positive viscose and lyocell made from carbon emissions.

Toward the end of last year, H&M Foundation launched a project in partnership with photography museum Fotografiska to raise awareness of the impact sustainable fashion innovation can achieve if given the opportunity to scale.

The two-year collaboration begins with Fotografiska Stockholms exhibition The Changing Room by visual artist and multimedia pioneer Tobias Gremmler. In a scenographic media exhibition, the artist takes Fotografiska’s visitors on a journey to picture a world where garments can grow directly on human skin through an array of imaginative notions.

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