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KTH Innovation supports future fashion innovators

Two men and one woman chatting outside a yellow stone building
The founders of SaltyCo have developed a planet positive alternative to goose down, crafted from plants that heal damagPicture by H&M Foundation.ed land.
Published Jun 28, 2022

A laundry solution that prolongs garments’ life, AI helping smallholder cotton farmers to increase yield and income, an invention realising the circular recycling of elastane and polyester blends, carbon-negative viscose made from CO2 emissions and regenerative agriculture making planet positive alternative to goose down. Game-changing fashion innovations came to KTH when the winners of the Global Change Award started their year in the GCA Impact Accelerator.

"The Nobel Prize of fashion"

KTH is a partner in the international innovation challenge Global Change Award. The initiative, that has been called the Nobel Prize of fashion, was launched by the non-profit H&M Foundation in 2015. Five innovative and groundbreaking ideas that can contribute to a more sustainable fashion industry share a 1 million euro grant and earn a place in the tailor-made GCA Impact Accelerator, where they receive support to develop their ideas. For the 2022 winners, the year-long program started in Stockholm last week. First stop? KTH Innovation!

Read more about our partnership within the Global Change Award

Using KTH Innovation's model

People working at tables
The winners of Global Change Award want to create a palnet positive fashion industry. Picture by H&M Foundation.

The winning teams spent two days working with the KTH Innovation Readiness Level Model , a tool developed by KTH Innovation to help early-stage teams evaluate and plan their progress. The tool that is based on NASA’s Technology Readiness Levels, is now used by hundreds of organizations worldwide.

- When you come from a specialized background, it’s easy to skew the planning to one particular area but then your company might end up looking like a bodybuilder that never works out their legs, says Wajahat Hussain, founder and CEO of BIORESTORE. This tool is very holistic. It makes it easy to set goals across the organization.

Communication in focus

Apart from the IRL model, the teams worked on their pitches, developed their communications toolbox, and received media training. Donnie Lygonis, Innovation Strategist at KTH Innovation, worked closely with the teams:

- It has been incredibly inspiring and exciting to meet and work with these teams that are literally from all over the world and that all have their own proprietary solution to a big challenge in the textile industry. Little did we know when this started seven years ago that it would reach so far and generate such fantastic ideas. I look forward to reading about each and every one of these winning teams in the decade to come since I am convinced that they all will be a part of creating positive impact in their respective fields.

Aiming to transform the fashion industry

In the coming year, the winners will continue to receive support to develop their innovations, to contribute to the fashion industry's necessary transformation.

- KTH works for long-term sustainable solutions in both research and education, says Sigbritt Karlsson, President of KTH. Therefore, it is natural to be part of the Global Change Award, which is now returning with renewed strength after the pandemic. Creating solutions that are good in themselves, and that are part of the solution itself - rather than a substitute for what is bad - is an exciting development in the fashion industry. The breadth and depth of the various contributions' perspectives show how comprehensive the climate issue is. 

2022 winners of the Global Change Award

  • BioPuff® by saltyco (UK) – A planet positive alternative to goose down, crafted from plants that heal damaged land.
  • BIORESTORE (Sweden) – A laundry solution that restores old and worn garments to mint condition.
  • CottonAce by Wadhwani AI (India) – An AI solution that reduces pesticide use, increases yield and raises incomes for smallholder cotton farmers.
  • Re:lastane (China) – The first mild process making elastane and polyester blend fabrics recyclable.
  • Rubi (US) – Planet positive viscose and lyocell made from carbon emissions.

Early bird winner:

  • PLSTC (Australia) - Bio-engineered bacteria turning plastic waste into food.

Read more about the winners on H&M Foundation's website

Text: Lisa Bäckman

Have an idea?

Do you have an idea you want to develop? KTH Innovation would love to hear about it! 

Belongs to: About KTH
Last changed: Jun 28, 2022