H&M Group’s nonprofit arm, H&M Foundation, selected a new class of winners for its Global Change Awards (GCA). Now in its seventh year, the awards honor the world’s most disruptive innovations and aim to fulfill the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
This year’s winners highlighted innovations in farming, home washing, circularity and more. Winners include BioPuff by Saltyco, a U.K.-based team that invented a planet-positive alternative to goose down that’s made from regenerative plants; BioRestore, a Swedish laundry solution that enhances the condition of worn clothing; CottonAce by Wadhwani AI, a solution from India that reduces pesticide use, increases yield and raises incomes for smallholder cotton farmers; Re:lastane, an innovation from China that’s able to recycle elastane and polyester blend fabrics; and Rubi, a U.S.-based company that produces planet-positive viscose and lyocell made from carbon emissions. Rubi was one of eight innovators selected for Fashion for Good’s 2022 Global Innovation Program in March.
Winners share a H&M Foundation grant for 1 million euro (about $1 million) and gain access to the GCA Impact Accelerator, a year-long mentorship program organized by H&M Foundation in partnership with Accenture, KTH Royal Institute of Technology and The Mills that aims to scale the innovations. After graduating from the program, the companies move to the GCA Alumni network, where they join a community of sustainably focused innovators that meet regularly to collaborate and share tips and insights.
“The winners of the Global Change Award hold the key to the complex challenges we are facing and prove that it’s possible to reinvent fashion,” said Karl-Johan Persson, board member of H&M Foundation and chairman of H&M Group. “Their game-changing innovations are really inspiring and can help transform the fashion industry into a planet positive one.”
This year’s awards process began Aug. 25, when H&M Foundation invited startups around the world to submit their applications. Though previous years included somewhat ambiguous guidelines related to positive global change, the 2022 program focused on one or several global areas including land, water, oceans, climate and biodiversity.
Applications were accepted through Oct. 20, and were reviewed by an international panel of experts, including Dr. Lin Li, director of global policy and advocacy at WWF International; Rachel Cernansky, senior sustainability editor at Vogue Business; Mirna Inez Fernandez, co-founder of Reaccion Climatica; Malin Åkerman, actress; Caroline Brown, managing director at Closed Loop Partners; Betelhem Dessie, CEO at ICog, Anyone Can Code; Sonam Kapoor Ahuja, actress; and Walden Lam, co-founder and CEO at Unspun.
Since launch the GCA in 2015, H&M Foundation has received more than 20,000 entries and awarded more than 30 disruptive innovations a combined grant of 6 million euros ($6.5 million). The 2021 GCA grand prize was awarded to Galy—which was also selected for Fashion For Good’s Accelerator Program—for its Incredible Cotton innovation that engineers cotton in a lab to lessen the burden of traditional cotton farming.
Past winners include Circular.Fashion, a digital system that gives designers knowledge and tools on how to design with recyclable intent, Dimpora, a biodegradable and mineral-based membrane for outdoor wear and Algaeing, which formulates eco-positive, scalable solutions for manufacturing fibers and dyeing fabrics.