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H&M Foundation opens new round of Global Change Award for innovation

Non-profit H&M Foundation has opened the fifth round of its innovation challenge Global Change Award.

The award is an attempt to move the needle in a space where global consumption of textiles and shoes are on track to increase by 65 per cent on 2015 levels by 2030. Organisers believe that creativity and innovation can flip the numbers in the planet’s favour and help enable great transformations in the fashion industry. 

The Global Change Award was initiated in 2015 by the H&M Foundation in collaboration with Accenture and KTH Royal Institute of Technology. It has received more than 14,000 entries from 182 countries. Named the Nobel Prize of fashion, it aims to reduce fashion’s impact on the planet and our living conditions by helping groundbreaking ideas move from tissue-sketch to market.

Several of the previous winners have on-going co-operations and pilot projects with the industry, and some are already on the market.

“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,” said H&M Foundation board member and H & M Hennes & Mauritz AB CEO Karl-Johan Persson. 

“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. 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.” 

Perhaps more important than the €1 million grant, the five winners will embark on a one-year Innovation Accelerator Program 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.

“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,” said H&M Foundation innovation lead Erik Bang.

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 October 16, and the five winners are crowned at the Grand Award Ceremony in Stockholm City Hall in April 2020.

The H&M Foundation was set up by Persson and his family as an independent organisation. While it bears the H&M name it is not part of H&M. 

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