This year’s winners of the Global Change Award presented by the H&M Foundation include a Peruvian company that manufactures vegan leather. In order to further promote sustainable innovations in the fashion industry, the Foundation has also launched an initiative in collaboration with Indiegogo, in which consumers can actively participate in the further development of the five selected startups as sponsors, supporters and testers via crowdfunding.
“The winners of the Global Change Award prove that it is possible to improve the negative impact of the fashion industry on the environment. They are a true inspiration, and great partners for any fashion company that wants to make a positive contribution to protecting our planet and our living conditions,” says Karl-Johan Persson, Member of the Board of the H&M Foundation and CEO of H&M Hennes & Mauritz AB. “The initiative with Indiegogo provides an additional important component, as it also actively involves the public as a central component in the process of developing and supporting sustainable fashion.”
Vegan startup producing “lab leather” among the winners
The panel of high-profile experts selected five winners for this year’s award, from a total of 6,640 entries from 182 countries, and supported them with various sums. 150,000 euros went to the start-up company “Lab Leather”, which belongs to the Peruvian company Le Qara. The startup produces biodegradable vegan leather using microorganisms.
In addition to the financial support, all winners will receive access to a one-year innovation acceleration program by the H&M Foundation in collaboration with Accenture and the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, New York, and Hong Kong. The program will be complemented by virtual coaching sessions, as the H&M Foundation believes that this method has proven to be a valuable tool for young entrepreneurs and shortens development phases by several years.
Financing as the biggest hurdle to innovation
Of all the projects submitted, 45% of entrepreneurs cited financing as the biggest obstacle to the realisation of their ideas. The complementary crowdfunding initiative, with its large but as yet mostly untapped potential, is intended to counteract this. Compared to last year, the awards have seen a significant increase in contributions from emerging markets, with growth of almost 200% for projects from African companies and 90% for innovations from Asian companies. The largest number of projects came from India, Nigeria and Pakistan. 47% of the ideas submitted came from women-led startups, around 34% from students, and 41% from applicants aged 25-34.