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Biophilica wins IET and Fashion District 'Manufacturing Futures' prize

By Danielle Wightman-Stone

9 Sep 2021


Image: courtesy of Fashion District by Charlie Williams; (L-R) Luq Niaza from IBM, Toni Allen from The IET, Beinn Muir and Jordan Berkowitz from Biophilica (Winners), Gabriele Verikaite from The Mills Fabrica and Craig Smith from Pangaia.

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and Fashion District have named Biophilica as the winner of the 2021 Manufacturing Futures prize for its innovative ‘Treekind,’ an entirely plant-based, compostable, leather alternative for the fashion industry.

The Manufacturing Futures prize, launched by the IET in partnership with the Fashion District and the Fashion Innovation Agency from the London College of Fashion, UAL, was designed to support technological innovations which are solving the manufacturing challenges facing the fashion industry today.

It called upon fashion and tech start-ups to introduce new tech solutions for the industry’s challenges and drive future growth in the fashion industry, with a focus on developing propositions for new materials, manufacturing processes, waste management, supply chain and logistics, transparency and traceability, end-of-use and the circular economy.

Since May, 10 shortlisted start-ups have received business and investment advice from industry and manufacturing experts before pitching to the panel of judges from Pangaia, H&M Co Labs, Make UK, IBM, FIA and IET.

Image: courtesy of Fashion District by Charlie Williams; Toni Allen from The IET with Jordan Berkowitz and Beinn Muir from Biophilica (Winners)

Biophilica was named the winner for its Treekind innovative, a plant-based leather alternative for the fashion industry that is recyclable as green waste, home compostable, plastic-free, and estimated carbon neutral.

As the winner, Biophilica will receive a cash prize of 15,000 pounds as well as a one-year lab membership for rapid prototyping and experimentation, provided by the Mills Fabrica.

In addition, IBM will provide bespoke business support that utilises design thinking to produce an action plan, and Common Objective will offer a 12-month business membership with global connections, premium intelligence and training courses in sustainable fashion and manufacturing.

Leather alternative Treekind by Biophilica wins Manufacturing Futures; Modern Synthesis and Nanoloom highly commended

In addition, Modern Synthesis, a biomaterials start-up making cellulose materials by growing microbes, and Nanoloom, creating biodegradable fibre based on graphene that shed, was awarded the highly commended honours.

Image: courtesy of Fashion District by Charlie Williams; Ben Reeve from Modern Synthesis

IET president, Danielle George, said in a statement: “Engineering plays an important role in the world of fashion and Manufacturing Futures gave us the opportunity to shine a spotlight on start-ups that are applying technology and science to tackle the urgent environmental needs of the fashion industry.

“We brought engineers and the fashion industry together to solve some of its biggest challenges, and these innovations certainly show the potential to change the future of fashion manufacturing and completely transform the industry.”

The other shortlisted companies included: Clean Ocean Technology, ClearChain, 2DTronics, Nanofique Limited, Pattern Project, Petit Pli, and Terra Neutra.

Fashion District director Helen Lax added: “Manufacturing Futures 2021 has brought forward truly cutting edge start-ups with some ground-breaking technologies. We have a real opportunity to collaborate, both within the industry and with other sectors, to bring on the brightest and most impactful innovations to reshape the industry.”