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Congratulations to Biophilica, our Manufacturing Futures 2021 Innovation Challenge Winners!

On Tuesday 7 September, we brought together members of our Fashion District community to celebrate the winners of the Manufacturing Futures 2021 Innovation Award.

The Innovation Challenge was set up by Fashion District in 2019 to stimulate ideas for use of technology in fashion, and to generate future solutions for industry uses.

Supporting the development of these innovative solutions is a crucial part of Fashion District’s remit, an important piece of our dynamic network that aims to help the fashion industry thrive. To that end, each year we focus the prize on a relevant challenge to encourage products and solutions that could disrupt the mainstream – with this year’s challenge focused on solutions that can revolutionise any part of the fashion supply chain and drive future growth in the industry.

“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.”

Helen Lax, Director, Fashion District.

The shortlist itself was selected from a host of impressive and creative applications by our esteemed panel of industry experts. This year’s cohort is comprised of ten start-ups who showed true innovation and the potential to change the future of manufacturing.

We are thrilled to share that during the ceremony, BIOPHILICA was announced as the winner of the Manufacturing Futures Prize for Treekind™ – an entirely plant-based, compostable, leather alternative for the fashion industry. Highly Commended was awarded to MODERN SYNTHESIS, a biomaterials start-up making cellulose materials by growing microbes, and NANOLOOM, creating biodegradable fibre based on graphene that does not shed.

Our Winners! Treekind by BIOPHILICA. Left to Right: Dr Beinn Murr (R&D Chemistry BIOPHILICA), Jordan Berkowitz (Strategy & Marketing BIOPHILICA) Toni Allen, (Director of International Strategic Marketing and Engagement, IET) Credit: Charlie Williams Photography

“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.”

Danielle George, MBE, President, IET.

Sponsored by the IET in celebration of its 150th anniversary in May this year, BIOPHILICA will receive a cash prize of £15,000 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.

Award Sculptures Created by Dust London, Exclusively for Fashion District. Credit: Charlie Williams Photography

Browse more information about our prize winners below, and make sure you also check out the 2021 Shortlisted Ventures to discover some truly inspiring solutions and products.

Our Winners

Treekind™ by Biophilica – Innovation Challenge Award Winners

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. With Treekind™ we want to support the transition to local, sustainable manufacturing and consumption.

Modern Synthesis – Highly Commended

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 customization.

Nanoloom – Highly Commended

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.