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H&M Foundation puts €1M and coaching program on the table for ideas reinventing the entire fashion industry – special call for digital innovation

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Today, the non-profit H&M Foundation opens the fourth round of its annual innovation challenge Global Change Award at globalchangeaward.com. With over 8,000 entries from 151 countries since 2015, it’s the go-to competition for circular innovation and has been named the Nobel Prize of fashion. It provides powerful funding and yearlong coaching to innovators who come up with solutions to spark the shift towards a circular fashion industry, protecting the planet and our living conditions. This year there’s an extra eye on ideas within digitalization. The applications period is open until 17 October.

To speed up the shift from the standard linear model where clothes often end up in the landfill, to a circular model where materials can be reused or recycled, the Global Change Award was initiated in 2015 by H&M Foundation, in collaboration with Accenture and the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm.

“New ideas are the foundation for change, but scaling them is an enormous challenge for every innovator. Together with our partners Accenture and the KTH Royal Institute of Technology, we’ve seen previous winners cut years off their timeline through our accelerator program. Now, we are eager to welcome five new circular heroes and encourage everyone who wants to reinvent one of the world’s largest industries to apply”, says Karl-Johan Persson, board member of the H&M Foundation and CEO of H & M Hennes & Mauritz AB.

The Global Change Award wants to find tomorrow’s game changers. It can come from anyone, anywhere. The top five countries with the highest number of entries since 2015 are India, US, Italy, Nigeria and UK. The innovation should have the potential to make fashion circular and thereby protect the planet and our living conditions. Other criteria are its impact and scalability, that it’s novel and economically sustainable and that the team is suited to make a difference.

“Innovation and collaboration lead fashion’s shift to circularity and a more sustainable future. The Global Change Award’s support to material and systems innovators not only helps to accelerate the success of each individual awardee but also impacts the progress of the global fashion industry”, says Steven Kolb, President and CEO The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), and member of the Global Change Award 2019 Expert Panel.

Previous winners with unexpected techniques, methods and fabrics show an incredible range of innovation possibilities, and how it can unlock solutions to big challenges. This year’s application period is 29 August to

17 October. An international expert panel with extensive knowledge within fashion, environment, circularity, entrepreneurship and innovation selects the five winners which are crowned at the Grand Award Ceremony in Stockholm City Hall in April 2019.

“This year we keep an extra eye on digital innovations which can make significant impact on efficiency, planning and resource use - all the way from making raw material to a garment’s end of life. Digitalization has the potential to disrupt at the root, reinvent how things are done and help producers, sellers and customers to become circular”, says Erik Bang, Innovation Lead, H&M Foundation.

H&M Foundation initiated the challenge to find innovations that allow major change for the entire industry, and the winner can collaborate with whoever they want. Neither the non-profit H&M Foundation nor H&M group take any equity or intellectual property rights in the innovations.



  •  Amy Webb, Quantitative Futurist and Founder of the Future Today Institute, and Professor of Strategic Foresight at the NYU Stern School of Business
  •  Bandana Tewari, Contributor, The Business of Fashion
  •  Chiling Lin, Actress and sustainability influencer
  •  Edwin Keh, CEO of The Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel
  •  Leila Janah, social entrepreneur, CEO and Founder Samasource and LXMI
  •  Steven Kolb, President and CEO The Council of Fashion Designers of America
  •  Tariq Fancy, Founder and Chairman at Rumie / CIO of Sustainable Investing, BlackRock
  •  Wanjira Mathai, Chair the Wangari Maathai Foundation
  •  William McDonough, Chief Executive McDonough Innovation and Co-Founder, Fashion For Good

The winners of the Global Change Award 2018 are currently taking part of the one-year Innovation Accelerator Program, taking them to Stockholm, New York and Hong Kong.

Crop-A-Porter/Agraloop: Making sustainable bio-textiles by using left-overs from food crop harvests
Grant: EUR 300,000
Web: circular-systems.com 
Progress: Agraloop is 12-18 months ahead of their original development schedule and about to begin the optimization of their Closed-Loop system. Initial patent filings will be developed in Q3/Q4 2018. Agraloop will begin pilots to prototype Agraloop BioFibre from banana, pineapple, and oil seed hemp inputs in Q3/Q4. These natural fibres will be processed using their proprietary bio-chemical approach and applied to commercially viable yarns and fabrics. This will go into ground-breaking design collaborations with some of the world’s biggest brands.

The Regenerator/Swerea IVF: Recirculating fashion by separating cotton and polyester blends, turning them into new textile fibre
Grant: EUR 250,000
Web: swerea.se 
Progress: Swerea IVF is focusing on technical development of their process and how to scale it up, both technically and economically. A new, larger reactor is being installed and will be up and running during autumn 2018, which is a major step forward. They are also working on improving the efficiency and yield in the process.

Algae Apparel/Algalife: Turning algae into bio-fiber and eco-friendly dye that is also good for the skin
Grant: EUR 150,000
Web: alga-life.com
Progress: Winning the Global Change Award was a deal breaker for Algalife’s development. In one day they became famous to the textile and fashion world, with an inbox filled with requests concerning their innovation. Now, they’ve got their first Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) and prepare the second one. They have a fully equipped laboratory and recruit staff. The algae fibres production has started in cooperation with German and Swedish institutes, and they are finishing the final formulas for the dye process of each colour, with fabrics from different brands.

Smart Stitch/Resortecs: A dissolvable thread that makes repairing and recycling a breeze
Grant: EUR 150,000
Web: resortecs.com 
Progress: Resortecs presented their first prototype of dissolvable stitching thread in March, and two months later featured their first fully dismantlable jacket. In July, they had four different solutions meeting all industry requirements. They are currently initiating seven pilots for testing these solutions on different products, such as jeans and backpacks.

Fungi Fashion/MycoTEX: Custom-made clothes made from decomposable mushroom roots
Grant: EUR 150,000
Web: neffa.nl
Progress. MycoTEX has launched the MycoTEX shopper, a bag made of 100% mycelium. Together with Utrecht University they have researched how to integrate electronic components in MycoTEX, which resulted in a light strand covering the bag which responds to a sound, and a chip directing customers to a website with more information. They are currently working on improving the material, and testing different dyes. MycoTEX was recently appointed as “The modern-day makers” by World Economic Forum – pioneers that are reviving traditional techniques and developing cutting-edge technologies – or merging both the old and the new.  

Facebook: H&M Foundation
Instagram: @hmfoundation

LinkedIn: se.linkedin.com/company/h-&-m-foundation 
YouTube: youtube.com/hmfoundation
Hashtags: #globalchangeaward, #hmfoundation

Questions, please contact:
Diana Amini
Global Manager, H&M Foundation
+46 72 980 48 02

Global Change Award was initiated 2015 by H&M Foundation, a non-profit global foundation, privately funded by the Stefan Persson family, founders and main owners of H&M group. Through partnerships with organizations around the globe, the H&M Foundation aims to accelerate the progress needed to reach the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. It focuses on four areas; Education, Water, Equality and Planet. By catalysing early innovations that can accelerate the shift from a linear to a circular fashion industry, the aim of the Global Change Award is to protect the planet and our living conditions. Global Change Award is one of the world’s biggest challenges for early stage innovation and the first such initiative in the fashion industry. For further information, please visit globalchangeaward.com and hmfoundation.com.