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Five innovations that will transform the fashion industry awarded €1 million by H&M Foundation 

Rosario Dawson & Abrima Erwiah. They form part of the Global Change Award Expert Panel. Copyright H&M_Studio189

From lab-grown cotton and creating fabrics from protein DNA, to tracking sustainable fibres by using blockchain technology, wastewater separation and converting carbon dioxide into sustainable polyester. These are the five winning innovations of the 2020 Global Change Award. Global Change Award, named the Nobel Prize of sustainable fashion, is the non-profit H&M Foundation’s fifth annual innovation challenge. Now, more than ever, H&M Foundation want to continue to support long-term development, innovation and entrepreneurship for a sustainable future. The goal is to identify early stage, disruptive ideas that can make fashion more sustainable, and to scale them to transform the entire fashion industry. 

In these uncertain times, when large parts of the world have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, H&M Foundation thinks it’s even more important to find and encourage ideas that can contribute to a more sustainable future for us and generations to come. We are fully committed in supporting our Global Change Award winners of 2020 through our financial grant and Innovation Accelerator Program, so that they can keep working and accelerate the development of their innovations and move the needle forward in sustainable fashion.  

“H&M Foundation continues to support entrepreneurs and innovators for long-term sustainability. Every year I am amazed by the ideas submitted to the Global Change Award. The innovations are in themselves challenging the way we think about fashion. We are moving away from the old, linear ways of thinking, and move faster towards a planet positive and sustainable model. The winning innovations will help our industry reinvent itself and hopefully also inspire even more great minds out there,” says Karl-Johan Persson, board member of H&M Foundation. 

This year, the Global Change Award Expert Panel selected five winning innovations out of 5,893 entries from 175 countries, during the period August-October 2019.  

The Global Change Award winners 2020:  

  • €300,000 – Incredible Cotton by GALY (US/Brazil). Using biotechnology to create lab-grown cotton. See short film
  • €250,000 – Feature Fibres by Werewool (US). Creating fabrics from protein DNA with natural colours, stretch and other features. See short film
  • €150,000 – Tracing Threads by TextileGenesis (India). Tracking sustainable fibres through transparent and reliable blockchain technology. See short film
  • €150,000 – Zero Sludge by SeaChange Technologies (US). Separating and cleaning wastewater to eliminate toxic sludge in landfills. See short film
  • €150,000 – Airwear by Fairbrics (France). Converting greenhouse gas into sustainable polyester. See short film

In addition to the €1 million grant, H&M Foundation enrolls the winners in a one-year Innovation Accelerator Program. The program, run in cooperation with Accenture and KTH Royal Institute of Technology, is designed to connect the winners with the fashion industry and speed up the process of bringing their innovations to the market. 

“Winning the Global Change Award validates the recognition and belief in our vision as a company and open new doors for partnerships, technology and call to action for the entire industry. We are going to work hard to make our vision come true and we believe this award is one of the most important steps for this accomplishment”, says Luciano Bueno, Founder and CEO of GALY.  

Since the start in 2015, the innovation challenge has seen over 20,000 entries from more than 200 countries and territories. During these five years, the Foundation has granted €5 million in 25 sustainable innovations, many of which have become global commercial products and services, working with some of the largest brands in fashion. 

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