Global competition for sustainable fashion

Published Mar 27, 2017

How can the fashion industry become more sustainable? The Global Change Award competition – in which KTH Royal Institute of Technology is a partner – highlights innovations from around the world. Voting is open to all from 27 March. Make your voice heard – and influence how the million euro grant is divided between five winners.

H&M Foundation, with KTH and Accenture as partners, launched the global innovation competition Global Change Award (GCA) in 2015. The aim of the competition is to contribute to sustainable development by highlighting pioneering ideas for a more circular fashion industry.

The winners in the first competition included an Italian team that now works with well-known brands to create new textiles from residual waste from citrus fruits. Another winner, from Estonia, is building up an e-market for surplus textiles. The team has developed a prototype to demonstrate the value of the concept to both brands and factories. Two pilot projects have been launched in China.

“The fashion industry faces major sustainable development challenges. We’re involved in the competition because it’s important to highlight the role of academia in the innovation system by actively helping meet major societal challenges,” says Lisa Ericsson, Head of KTH Innovation.

This year’s competition has attracted even more participants than the first one. A total of 2,885 innovations have been submitted from 130 countries. A new feature this year is that the applications have been divided into three sub-categories:

  • Circular business models – this includes ideas on how to reuse, repair, share or extend the life of a product.
  • Circular materials seeks ideas on new materials, recycling technologies, leather substitutes, etc.
  • Circular processes aims to find new methods for chemicals, water and dyeing, as well as 3D printing and demand-led production.

With Accenture and H&M Foundation, KTH has developed a one-year innovation accelerator from which all winners can benefit. The programme is tailored to ensure that the winners receive the support they need to develop their ideas.

The innovation accelerator starts with a week-long intensive boot camp run by KTH. During the week, the five winning applications will examine their ideas in depth, assess their current status and go through the parts they need to focus on in the future.

“Our experience from the previous year is that the accelerator primarily helps participants gain a better understanding of the challenges they face. It was great to see how they shared tips and experience with each other,” says Lisa Ericsson.

Text: Ylva Carlsson

How to vote 

  • Voting will take place from 27 March to 2 April at globalchangeaward.com. Voting is open to all. The results of the voting determine how the grant will be divided between the five winners.
  • The Global Change Award 2015 had 2,700 entries from 112 countries. The five winners were from Estonia, Finland, Italy, the USA and the Netherlands. 2,885 innovations have been submitted from 130 countries in this year’s competition.
  • H&M Foundation, which was founded by H&M’s majority shareholder Stefan Persson and family, is behind the Global Change Award. The foundation wants to use the innovation competition to accelerate the transition to a more sustainable society. Participation in the competition is free of charge. The winners are picked by an expert panel. The Swedish representative is Johan L Kuylenstierna, Executive Director of the Stockholm Environment Institute.
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