H&M announces winners of first Global Change Awards

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On 10 February, HRH Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden awarded the winners of the first Global Change Award, an annual innovation challenge for circular fashion initiated by the non-profit H&M Conscious Foundation. The most votes, and a grant of €300,000, were awarded to the Finnish team behind Making waste-cotton new; conversion of waste-cotton into new textile.

The online vote was held 1-7 February and the results are:

  • €300,000: making waste-cotton new – conversion of waste-cotton into new textile. Innovation team lead: Michael Hummel, Finland. (31% of the votes)
  • €250,000: the polyester digester – using microbes to recycle waste polyester textile. Innovation team lead: Akshay Sethi, U.S. (22% of the votes)
  • €150,000: an online market for textile leftovers – a marketplace for industrial upcycling of spill in
  • production. Innovation team lead: Ann Runnel, Estonia. (18% of the votes)
  • €150,000: 100 percent citrus – creating new textile out of citrus juice production by-products. Innovation team lead: Enrica Arena, Italy. (15% of the votes)
  • €150,000: Growing textile fibre under water – utilizing algae to make renewable textile. Innovator: Tjeerd Veenhoven, the Netherlands. (14% of the votes)

“This prestigious grant will allow us to lift our technology closer to an industrially viable level. Now we will focus on the further development of technical details, in particular the solvent recovery to ensure economic competitiveness and complete environmental friendliness of our process,” said Michael Hummel, spokesperson for the Finnish team behind Making waste-cotton new – conversion of waste-cotton into new textile.

Inspired by the response from the global innovation community, and to spark impact beyond the five winners, the Foundation has now also launched the Global Change Award Network – a public digital space where teams and ideas can grow.

“When the application period closed, we sat with thousands of amazing ideas. So we decided to create the Global Change Award Network. You can look at it as a matchmaking site, where innovators can present their ideas, get feedback, make contacts and maybe investors can even find the next big thing. A digital greenhouse for innovative ideas,” said Karl-Johan Persson, board member of the H&M Conscious Foundation and CEO of H&M.

The award ceremony on 10 February marked the beginning of a one year innovation accelerator, provided by H&M Conscious Foundation, Accenture and KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden. The programme will help the winners develop their ideas, focusing on three main areas; circular economy, innovation and fashion industry connection.

“The level of innovation that we have seen throughout this process is truly inspiring and we aim to advance the strategic business growth of the five Global Change Award winners by guiding and coaching them through the Innovation Accelerator to develop their ideas further,” said Jennie Perzon, strategy program lead, Accenture.

“For KTH, it is a matter of both urgency and privilege to be a partner to Global Change Award, as we are facing extreme environmental challenges. Supporting this effort and being part of a better future is the obvious course for KTH to take. We are excited to kick off the accelerator program and get to know the five winning innovators,” said Lisa Ericsson, head of KTH Innovation.