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Global Change Award 2020: Submit your sustainable fashion innovation

Non-profit H&M Foundation has opened entries for the fifth edition of its annual innovation challenge, the Global Change Award. Dubbed the 'Nobel Prize of fashion', it aims to reduce fashion's impact on the planet and our living conditions by helping ground-breaking ideas move from tissue-sketch to market.

Image credit: GCA

By 2030, the global middle class is expected to have increased to 5 billion people and the consumption of textiles and shoes by 65% compared to 2015. The world is already using around 1.6 planet’s worth of resources every year. But creativity and innovation can flip the numbers in planet’s favour and help enable the biggest transformation ever in the fashion industry. With a circular mindset, fashion can be designed, produced, sold, used, reused and recycled in a way where resources are used and reused indefinitely in a closed loop.

The Global Change Award was initiated in 2015 by H&M Foundation, in collaboration with Accenture and the KTH Royal Institute of Technology. It has received over 14,000 entries from 182 countries. Several of the previous winners have ongoing cooperations and pilot projects with the industry, and some are already on the market.

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“In its fifth year, the Global Change Award has proven a great gateway for innovators to enter the fashion industry and transform it from the inside. We've seen previous winners move from sketching table to market – but more importantly, inspiring a new generation of creatives, scientists and entrepreneurs to reduce the planetary impact of the fashion industry through innovation," says Karl-Johan Persson, board member of the H&M Foundation and CEO of H&M Hennes & Mauritz AB.

"The next big idea that will change the game can come from anyone anywhere. So, if you have an idea you believe in this is the place to go."

In addition to the €1 million grant, the five winners will embark on a one-year Innovation Accelerator Programme taking them to Stockholm, New York and Hong Kong. In the accelerator, H&M Foundation, Accenture and the KTH Royal Institute of Technology support the winners in taking their ideas to the next level, with guidance on how to scale up quickly and maximise their impact on the industry.

Image credit: GCA

Submission criteria


“This year, we are especially looking for innovations that make it easier for us as consumers to act more sustainably, ideas that use technology and data that make the fashion industry smarter and solutions that facilitate design with a circular intention,” says Erik Bang, innovation lead, H&M Foundation.

To win, the innovation should have the potential to make fashion circular and to scale. Other criteria are novelty, that the idea is economically sustainable, and that the innovation team is committed to making a difference.

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.

Submission deadline is 16 October 2019 and the five winners are crowned at the Grand Award Ceremony in Stockholm City Hall in April 2020.

An international expert panel with extensive knowledge within fashion, environment, circularity, entrepreneurship and innovation will select the five winners.

Image credit: GCA

The Global Change Award Expert Panel for 2020 comprises:

• Abrima Erwiah, co-founder and president, Studio One Eighty Nine
• Betelhem Dessie, CEO of iCog Anyone Can Code and project advisor of Solve IT
• Burak Cakmak, Dean of the School of Fashion at Parsons School of Design
• Malin Åkerman, actress and environmental activist
• Rosario Dawson, actress and co-founder, Studio One Eighty Nine
• Sonam K Ahuja, actress and sustainability influencer
• Tariq Fancy, founder and chairman at Rumie, chief investment officer of sustainable investing, BlackRock
• Vanessa Cheung, founder, The Mills
• Wanjira Mathai, chair, Wangari Maathai Foundation
• William McDonough, chief executive at McDonough Innovation and co-founder, Fashion For Good

Some of last year's winners included The Loop Scoop by Circular.Fashion (Germany), a digital system aiming to close the loop on every garment from design to wear to recycling, and the Sane Membrane by Dimpora (Switzerland), which is a biodegradable and mineral-based membrane for outdoor wear.

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