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Fashion District shortlists ten tech start-ups for Manufacturing Futures 2021

By Danielle Wightman-Stone


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courtesy of Pattern Project

The Fashion District, in collaboration with The Fashion Innovation Agency from London College of Fashion, UAL, has announced ten start-ups that “could change the face of fashion manufacturing” as part of its innovation challenge prize.

The Manufacturing Futures 2021 calls upon fashion and tech companies to introduce new tech solutions for the industry’s challenges and drive future growth in the fashion industry. It is focused on start-ups that are developing propositions for new materials, manufacturing processes, waste management, supply chain and logistics, transparency & traceability, end-of-use and the circular economy.

The ten shortlisted start-ups include alternatives for leather, technology that enables companies to address sustainability, microbial weaving, biodegradable fibres, innovations to degrade dyes in wastewater and machinery and software to make custom-fit clothing.

The winner will receive a cash prize of 15,000 pounds, sponsored by the Institution of Engineering and Technology in celebration of its 150th anniversary in May, alongside 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.

Helen Lax, director of Fashion District, said in a statement: “Manufacturing Futures 2021 has unearthed some truly cutting edge start-ups that are applying technology and science to tackle the urgent environmental needs of the fashion industry. 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.”

Before pitching to the judges at an industry and investor supper in September 2021, the ten finalists will receive constructive feedback from high-level industry experts who will act as ‘Critical Friends’, in the areas of fashion manufacturing, strategy, investment, IP and sustainability. ‘Critical Friends’ include representatives from H&M Foundation, Fashion For Good, Make it British, UKFT, Supply Compass, Innovate UK, ReLondon, the University of Cambridge Centre for Sustainability, Lewis Silkin, and Making for Change.

Manufacturing Futures 2021 announces 10 start-up finalists

Treekind by Biophilica is a plant-based leather alternative for the fashion industry. It is estimated to be carbon negative, recyclable as green waste, home compostable, non-toxic and completely free of plastic and petrochemicals.

Clean Ocean Technology by Airjet Global is a textile business that creates new yarn by binding any recycled raw material with natural and bioartificial spun yarn. It reduces the polluting effect of textiles and protects the environment from fibres and chemicals in clothing, whilst providing greater durability and better circularity.

ClearChain is a software platform for easy, low-cost, high-value supply chain mapping, compliance auditing and reporting. It enables companies to get answers to the big questions facing them about sustainability, Net-Zero and ethical compliance.

2DTronics by G Square is a textile technology start-up dedicated to producing smart sustainable clothing for the home, for work and exercise. 2DTronics fabrics are made from composites of nanomaterials with recycled or natural fibres giving enhanced strength, durability and comfort. Garments are also to be embedded with smart sensing functions using graphene conductive inks.

Modern Synthesis is a London based biomaterial start-up connecting the dots between biology, material science and design to craft progressive biomaterials for the fashion industry. The company's ‘microbial weaving’ process employs microbes to grow a strong, lightweight cellulose-based composite material that is naturally biodegradable and offers unique potential for customisation.

Nanofique Limited is working with bio-composites of nanostructured material to degrade the dyes in wastewater, removing the colour and associated harmful effects. They also separate, remove and upgrade the heavy metal ions and salt without producing sludge and recycle the water. Their product is catalytic and biodegradable. The bio element can be grown without the use of irrigation, fertiliser or pesticides.

Nanoloom creates biodegradable fibre from a novel, unique nanomaterial called BioHastalex, which is based on graphene. BioHastalex is extremely strong, light, flexible and durable. It can be made to attract or repel water without additives, doesn’t shed and is scalable. This makes it suitable for numerous applications, and Nanoloom currently focuses on performance apparel.

Pattern Project is a clothing micro-factory, developing machinery and software to enable independent fashion brands, high street retailers or tailoring companies to produce custom-fit clothing in-store and on-demand. The software generates a made-to-measure pattern from customer measurements and sends it to a desktop cutting machine. A ready-to-sew custom-fit garment is then created in as little as 10 minutes.

Petit Pli is a wearable technology company engineering clothes that grow. Trained aeronautical engineer, Ryan Mario Yasin founded Petit Pli in 2017, shortly after gifting clothes to his newborn nephew in Denmark. By the time the clothes arrived, they were already too small! Ryan drew inspiration from his background in deployable nano-satellite structures to pioneer a new approach to slow fashion.

Terra Neutra provides innovative services that measure the carbon footprint of a product and allow customers to offset the impact in the shopping cart. Their mission is to create a carbon positive world, empowering people to live more sustainably, raising awareness of climate impact, enabling reduction and offsetting any residual emissions.

courtesy of Modern Synthesis
Fashion District
Manufacturing Futures 2021
Sustainable Fashion
The Fashion Innovation Agency