STOCKHOLM – H&M Foundation has announced five winning innovations out of 5,893 entries from 175 countries for its annual €1m Global Change Award. The winners are: using biotechnology to create lab-grown cotton, creating fabrics from protein DNA, tracking fibres through blockchain technology, separating and cleaning wastewater to eliminate toxic sludge in landfills, and converting greenhouse gas into sustainable polyester. Each winner will receive between €150,000 to €300,000 to attempt to scale their ideas.
H&M Foundation also enrols the winners in a one-year Innovation Accelerator Program. The programme, 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.”
The winners were announced against a backdrop of uncertainty amid the COVID-19 pandemic which is causing huge distress to global apparel supply chains.
Said a statement from the H&M Foundation: “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.”
Karl-Johan Persson, board member of H&M Foundation, added: “H&M Foundation supports the fight against the Corona virus, and at the same time we continue 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 need to leave the old, linear ways of thinking behind, and move faster towards a planet positive and sustainable model. The winning innovations will help our industry reinvent itself and hopefully inspire others to also find new solutions.”
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 €5m in 25 innovation grants many of which have become global commercial products and services, working with some of the largest brands in fashion.