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Wear Sustain launches sustainable wearables competition

By Danielle Wightman-Stone


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Wear Sustain, an initiative by seven organisations across Europe including Queen Mary University of London and University for the Creative Arts, is calling on pioneers in ethical wearable technology or e-textiles to enter its competition to win a slice of its 2.4 million euros fund.

The wearable technology programme is seeking applications from teams of art, design, technology, engineering and businesses to co-develop “compelling, ethical, innovative and sustainable solutions for wearable technology and e-textiles”.

The fund of 2.4 million euros will offer 48 teams up to 50,000 euros each in support via innovation vouchers and with input from mentors, experts and hubs across Europe to develop prototypes and help take ideas to market.

The aim is to get 48 prototypes that will “exemplify ethics and sustainability in wearable technology and e-textiles” to be exhibited at a final showcase event in late 2018.

Wear Sustain is seeking proposals that address current and pressing issues facing European and global society, such as a ethical, responsible, environmental, sustainable and aesthetic solution to a real-world social, political, economic and environmental problem. The organisation has set out seven themed areas, with applicants expected to engage with one pf more of these challenges. The themes are: Environment; Use and Reuse vs Waste; Body, physiology, somatics; Energy; Emotional and mental health; Social, cultural, economic; and an open category to allow teams to propose projects that do not strictly fit into one of the other categories.

Rachel Lasebikan, senior research and innovation manager at Queen Mary University of London, said: “This project represents such a rare opportunity for people and businesses in different sectors to collaborate and also access real financial support and expertise in areas such as prototyping, business and venturing. We’re not looking for experts in wearables but to help get great ideas off the ground and, set a benchmark for ethics and sustainability in the technology field.”

A series of events will take place across Europe at local project hubs, including on May 3 in London, Eindhoven from May 16-19 and Brussels on May 17. Deadlines for submissions will be May 31, with selected finalists to pitch their ideas to a panel of experts in June, with winning teams to work on their prototypes from July for 6-8 months.

Wear Sustain will host a second open call in November-December 2017 to fund another 24 projects.

Wear Sustain holds 2.4 million euro wearables competition

In addition, a Sustainability Strategy and free online handbook will be published by the end of the project to enable consumers, entrepreneurs and other industry stakeholders to become more aware of the issues in making and using wearable technologies, and to encourage the use of recommended best practices for the future of society.

Dr Camille Baker, reader at University of the Creative Arts, added: “Our aim is to boost synergies between technology and the arts across Europe and highlight awareness of ethics in technology, using wearables and e-textiles to explore key issues such as personal data, ethics and sustainability in current technology use. Through this process Wear Sustain will help pave the way towards a new generation of wearables and e-textiles that are more ethical, critical and aesthetic.”

Wear Sustain is funded by the European Commission Horizon 2020 research and innovation initiative and is the current winner of the ICT-36-2016 Creativity and Sustainability topic. Its aim is to develop best practices for future creative and technology collaborations, besides creating sustainable and ethical innovation methodologies for wearable technology, smart and electronic textiles.

Image: via Wear Sustain website

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