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Reaching impressive milestones

Our 2020 winners have all made great progress with their innovations over the last six months, despite the world being upside down. We have been working closely together with them through a redesigned version of our one-year Innovation Accelerator Program, providing weekly digital sessions by us, our partners Accenture and KTH Royal Institute of Technology as well as guest speakers and GCA alumnis, instead of three main bootcamp weeks around the world.

Werewool, winners of GCA 2020
Werewool, winners of GCA 2020, creating fabrics on DNA level.

Now more than ever, innovation can’t wait. Start-ups, entrepreneurs and scientists all need our support to find new ideas on how to achieve a sustainable fashion future. And our amazing winners and problem solvers have all made great progress with their innovations.

Fairbrics – Getting closer to make wear out of thin air

The innovation by this French team traps carbon dioxide and activates and transforms it into sustainable polyester fabric that looks and feels like regular polyester.

Over the last six months,

  • The team has grown from 2 to 7 people.
  • Despite delays caused by Covid-19, they have been working hard to keep the speed up, managing to make great progress in their product development.
  • They have been increasing the polyester batch size significantly, which made it possible for the team to produce their first PET pellets and yarns.
  • They are now getting ready to open a scale-up lab and increase the production to 1 kilogram per day.

“Winning the Global Change Award made it possible to attract the best talents, which is the most critical part of the project. The grant also gave us confidence that we could maintain long term employment for our new hires. And increasing the production to 1 kilogram per day is a milestone that will allow us to produce our first garment made out of thin air.”

Benoit Illy from Fairbrics

Werewool – Refining revolutionary fibres derived from nature itself

This team from the US, uses proteins found in organisms to make biodegradable materials with desired features like colour, stretch, moisture and water repellence.

Since winning the Global Change Award in April,

  • The team have moved into a new lab space and grown the R&D team to accelerate the development of their innovation.
  • The Accelerator Program and new connections has created a deeper understanding of the market they are entering, and what type of partnerships they need to successfully introduce their fibers to the fashion industry.
  • The biggest challenge due to Covid-19 has been to learn how to work as a new company that turned into a completely remote team overnight. Despite this, the team is now getting ready to fundraise and merge components of their R&D towards refining their fiber composition.

“Talking to stakeholders has really helped us grow – we have gained an understanding of specific milestones we need to hit in order to move forward in our technology, funding, and as a team.”

Chui-Lian Lee from Werewool

SeaChange Technologies – Piloting turbines to eliminate toxic sludge in landfills

This US based team is using a powerful jet engine to treat factory wastewater, turning toxic sludge into a manageable dry powder and extracting clean water to be released or reused.

Since being crowned as Global Change Award winners,

  • They have moved into their own facility and they have developed what they hope to be the first commercial version of their water treatment system.
  • As an effect of the pandemic, their turbine engine supplier has gone bankrupt. But instead they are investigating building their own jet engines, which will be tested next month.
  • Even though Covid travel restrictions has made it challenging to connect with key customers in Asia, we’re now getting ready to launch a pilot trial with US-based post-consumer polyester recycling company.

“The accelerator program has been an amazing opportunity to discuss and collaborate with like-minded innovators, experienced advisors, and industry experts. This is critically important in so many ways.“

Dipak Mahato from SeaChange Technologies

TextileGenesis – Accelerating transparency across the fashion industry

This team, based in Hong Kong and India are using blockchain technology to track and verify the use of sustainable fibres all the way from fibre to garment.

Since being crowned Global Change Award winners six months ago,

  • The team has been partnering with Textile Exchange to accelerate the transparency movement across the fashion industry.
  • They have also been running fiber-to-retail traceability pilots together with Lenzing, Armedangles and Schneider as well as the H&M Group.

“The pilot with H&M Group included tracking of TENCEL, recycled polyester (GRS), and responsible wool (RWS) using Fibercoins (digital fingerprints) covering five supply chain tiers including farming, fiber production, spinning, weaving or knitting and garment making.”

Amit Gautam from TextileGenesis

GALY – Growing high-quality cotton in the lab

This team from Brazil, based in the US is using biotechnology to create lab-grown cotton.

Over the last six months,

  • They grew their team from 3 to 15 people, adding expertise within science, operations, bio-hacking, business and marketing.
  • They screened more than 30 different cotton species.
  • They created their first proof of concept, started a cell suspension culture, reduced the cotton growth cycle time and managed to fundraise, despite Covid-19.
  • Their biggest struggle has been to find the right equipment to support the research in a fast pace. As a result, they’ve created their own systems and are now getting ready to improve the process to maximize the testing and optimization.

“Being a GCA winner was transformative, we got traction and respect from different players in the industry like brands, investors, potential employees, suppliers etc. We went from being a crazy idea to being a company full of people capable of executing the crazy idea.” 

Luciano Bueno from GALY

ZER Collection – Zero-waste tailoring

This Spanish team is creating reusable 3D printed garments made without wasting any resources.

ZER Collection were selected as our Early Bird winners this year. That is, the best entry submitted in the first half of the application period. This team does not receive a grant, but get the opportunity to attend parts of our Accelerator Program.

Since then, they’ve worked hard to create a commercial collection with their unique materials and technologies. 

“The award has given us confidence in ourselves, and we’re now getting ready to launch our product to the market and change the fashion to a more sustainable one.”

Ane Castro Sudupe from ZER Collection