The annual Global Change Award is one of the world’s leading challenges for early stage innovation, and the largest initiative of its kind in the fashion industry. The award, initiated by the H&M Foundation in 2015, is given to game changing ideas that can make the entire fashion industry circular and help protect our planet and living conditions. With this year´s 2,600 entries from 151 countries it’s clear there’s no shortage of ideas out there. Interestingly, most solutions are coming from innovators outside of the fashion industry.

The five winners were chosen by an international expert panel with extensive knowledge within fashion, sustainability, circularity and innovation.


Making sustainable bio-textiles by using left-overs from food crop harvests

Food crop waste creates a huge problem as it is usually burnt or left to rot releasing polluting carbon dioxide and methane gas into the atmosphere. Crop-A-Porter will change this by turning the waste into a valuable resource, that also generates an additional income to the farmers. Crop-A-Porter takes the harvest remains of crops such as oil-seed flax, hemp, sugarcane, bananas and pineapples and turns it into useful bio-fibre through a low-cost, closed loop technology. The bio-fibre can then be turned into textile fabric.

"Winning the Global Change Award means we can begin to unlock huge value for the textile and fashion industry. We can now propel this important technology much faster into scaled production. The grant will be used for optimizing our closed-loop technology, protecting IP, and beginning to produce commercial Agraloop BioFibre™fibre productions." - Isaac Nichelson

Owners of idea: Yitzac Goldstein, Geof Kime and Isaac Nichelson
Country: USA
Innovation name: The Agraloop
Awarded: € 300.000

Algae Apparel

Turning algae into bio-fibre and eco-friendly dye that is also good for your skin

Growing natural fibres, such as cotton, requires large amounts of water. Textile dyeing is another huge problem, both in terms of water use and pollution. Algae Apparel has solved both these issues by looking under the sea to find an untapped resource in algae. Algae are a renewable and degradable aquatic organism, which can be turned into bio-fibre and earth friendly dye, just as Living Colour. A bonus effect of wearing clothes made from algae apparel is that the fabric releases anti-oxidants, vitamins and other nutrients into your skin.

"The grant will enable us to continue our research and scientific development, increase our personnel and our laboratory access, and support our experimental efforts with a variety of algae." - Renana Kelbs

Owners of idea: Renana Krebs and Dr. Oded Krebs
Country: Israel
Innovation name: Algalife
Awarded: € 150.000

Smart Stitch

A dissolvable thread that makes repairing and recycling a breeze

Zippers and buttons make garment recycling complicated as the removal of such details calls for manual assistance, making the process both costly and time consuming. Smart Stitch solves this problem by supplying a thread that simply dissolves at a high temperature. And when used for regular seams, the whole piece of clothing can easily be disassembled so that the fabric can be used over and over in new ways, cutting the need to produce fabric from scratch. Stitch by stitch, this innovation can bring new life to fashion.

"Not only are we grateful for the grant that will support the development of the stitching prototype and the upcycling model, but we are also very eager to collaborate with the Global Change Award’s partners during the innovation accelerator programme." - Cédric Vanhoeck

Owners of idea: Cédric Vanhoeck and Vanessa Counaert
Country: Belgium
Innovation name: RESORTECS
Awarded: € 150.000

The Regenerator

Recirculating fashion into new textile fibre by separating cotton and polyester blends

Recycling of mixed material fabrics such as the hugely popular polyester and cotton blends is very tricky. The idea behind The Regenerator is a circular technology that uses an environmentally friendly chemical to gently separate and regenerate cotton and polyester blends into new, fully useable textile fibre. In short, this innovation will un-mix mixed fibres to create tomorrow’s fashion.

"The grant will be used for further improving, optimizing and scaling up our process."

Owners of idea: Zengwei Guo, Lisa Schwarz Bour, Erik Nilsson, Tobias Köhnke and Bengt Hagström.
Country: Sweden
Innovation name: Circular recycling of polyester and cotton blend washes
Awarded: € 250.000

Fungi Fashion

Custom-made clothes made from decomposable mushroom roots

Many of us enjoy fashion and trends, but the clothes we get rid of along the way are a big problem. Fungi Fashion went to the root of the problem and found a resource in mycelium – mushroom roots. Combined with 3D technology, they’ve found a way to produce custom-made clothes out of this new natural fibre without the need to cut and sew. Once you’ve worn it out, you simply bury the garment in the ground and it will naturally decompose.

"The grant will be used to work on improving the material, hiring a microbiologist and setting up a small lab at our studio for quicker research." - Aniela Hoitink

Owners of idea: Aniela Hoitink
Country: Netherlands
Innovation name: MycoTEX
Awarded: € 150.000

The teams behind the innovations and the results from the vote were revealed at the Grand Award Ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden on March 20. I was very curious to see who the people behind these innovations are, because I knew of similar initiatives like Pinatex, AlgiKnit and MycoTEX. That's why I also thought the voting was hard, because I wanted to support the designers and scientists who I know are working on these innovations for years and I simply didn't know who they were. Smart Stitch is a lovely initiative I hadn't heard about before, but I think the heating of the yarn could cause problems in terms of energy waste, and there's no information provided on how they'd like to solve that. That's why my vote went to The Regenerator. I think this will provide a very important solution to current recycling limitations.

The winners also get access to a one-year innovation accelerator. The accelerator takes the winners to Stockholm, New York and Shanghai providing a toolbox of skills, networks and exposure to help them leverage their innovations and grant.

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