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Kering, Plug and Play Create New Sustainable Innovation Award

Aiming to advance sustainable innovation in China’s luxury and apparel sectors, luxury goods company Kering and global innovation platform Plug and Play launched the Kering Sustainable Innovation Award earlier this month.

Kering, which manages brands including Gucci, Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta and Balenciaga, said the award is inspired by the company motto “Crafting Tomorrow’s Luxury” and will identify promising change-making startups and technologies in China “that have the potential to disrupt the textile value chain, bringing a positive environmental and social impact.” Kering said it specifically seeks startups that address challenges in alternative raw materials, green supply chain, retail and the circular economy.

Start-up scouting, due diligence and a winner selection process began this month and will run through August under the leadership of Marie-Claire Daveu, chief sustainability officer and head of international institutional affairs at Kering. Three winners will be selected in September by an expert jury and announced next fall at a Kering-sponsored Sustainable Innovation Conference & Prize Award Ceremony.

Three winners will receive targeted introductions with industry leaders and investors, and access to funding opportunities, as well as meetings with and mentorship from Kering Group members and other industry experts. They will also receive trips to Europe and the U.S. that include visits to Kering headquarters in Paris, Kering Group’s brands, Fashion For Good in Amsterdam, and Plug and Play Tech Center headquarters in Silicon Valley, California.

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The first-place winner will also receive a monetary prize of 100,000 euros ($113,556) to develop their project.

The jury is composed of industry members with knowledge in the areas of fashion, luxury, entrepreneurship, sustainability and innovation.

“Kering is excited to extend our Plug and Play collaboration to China, where we recognize that the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit of Chinese start-ups can offer endless solutions to fashion’s sustainability challenges,” Daveu said. “Innovation and smart problem-solving are critical to reinvent luxury’s business model as sustainable and through our dedicated Kering Sustainable Innovation Award, we hope to catalyze new ideas and solutions in the Greater China region to help us in our mission to do so.”

As part of its innovation roadmap, Kering initiated a collaboration with the Fashion for Good – Plug and Play Accelerator in Europe in March 2017 to help identify innovative solutions along the entire apparel supply chain, from alternative raw materials to circular technologies to extend product life. Kering has given support to more than 50 start-ups who have graduated from the Fashion for Good-Plug and Play Accelerator, including biodegradable glitter and fabrics made from algae to new ecological dyeing processes and breakthrough technologies for clothing recycling.