H&M's "Global Change Award," a €1 million ($1.15 million) grant to promote innovation in clothing production and recycling, is back for a second go-round. In 2015, more than 2,700 applications from 112 countries were submitted for the grant; and in February, five winning teams were awarded different shares of the money and entered a one-year-long innovation accelerator. It's all part of the Swedish retailer's efforts to support sustainability as its own high-volume production practices have been fiercely criticized.
H&M's nonprofit arm is accepting applications for the 2016 grant starting Thursday through Oct. 31 at globalchangeaward.com, and teams can enter in one of three categories: "circular business models" for the reuse, repair and extended life of products; "circular materials" for new new fibers and recycling techniques and "circular processes" for new chemical, dyeing and 3D printing processes.
"The Global Change Award aims to speed up the transition to a circular business model for the entire fashion industry," says Karl-Johan Persson, H&M CEO and board member of the H&M Foundation, in a statement. "I am excited to see what ideas the next round of the Global Change Award can generate."
The panel of judges selects team finalists before an online vote by the public determines how much of the grant money is awarded to each team. This year's judges include actress and entrepreneur Amber Valletta, The New York Academy of Sciences's Ellis Rubinstein, Textile Futures Research Centre's Rebecca Earley, Vogue Italia's Franca Sozzani, Exponential Leadership's David Roberts, Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute's Lewis Perkins, World Bank Group's Vikram Widge, Stockholm Environment Institute's Johan Kuylenstiern and Dame Ellen MacArthur. The award ceremony will take place on April 6 in Stockholm.
Last year's winners are still in the accelerator program, working on developing projects like the conversion of waste-cotton into a new textile, the use of microbes to recycle waste polyester and the foundation of an online market for textile leftovers.