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Manufacturing Futures: Shortlist Announcement!

Fashion District has announced the shortlist of 10 start-ups and SMEs in its coveted Innovation Challenge: Manufacturing Futures programme.

As part of the programme, the brands have the chance to win a £15,000 cash prize to develop their sustainable manufacturing business to make an impact on the fashion industry, chosen by a judging panel of experts in July.

The shortlisted start-ups are:

  • Arda Biomaterials – turning spent grain from the beer brewing and whisky distilling industries into a novel, leather-like material
  • Fab Materials – converting hard to recycle fashion waste into valuable boards and composites
  • Fibe – creating new cellulosic materials from potato harvest waste
  • Fiiba – scaling sustainable materials for the fashion industry made from 100% agricultural waste
  • Oxford Biopigments – plant-based dyes that are naturally lightfast and perform like synthetic dyes
  • PACT – creating performance and aesthetic ready textiles made from collagen sourced from industrial by-products
  • Sequinova – cutting-edge, plant based, biodegradable sequin materials
  • The Seam – the wardrobe care & repair service powered by intelligent tech, that pairs specialist makers with people and brands to keep fashion out of landfill
  • TRUSS – simplifying the resale process through instant access to actionable data
  • Zori Tex – using the latest technology to optimise the sorting and availability of complex non-reusable textiles

Helen Lax, Fashion District Director said:

“It is incredible to be part of something that has the potential to change the way an industry works and make a real impact for future generations. The shortlist of brands in this iteration of Manufacturing Futures is spectacularly strong, and one can’t help but be amazed by the sheer talent and innovation held by the next gen of changemakers.”

The shortlist was chosen by the Manufacturing Futures judging panel, consisting of industry experts Ella Gould, Head of Sustainability and Innovation at Selfridges; Chelsea Franklin, Head of Advanced Concept Design at PANGAIA; Adam Mansell, CEO of UKFT, Gillian Lipton, Sustainability Director at Alexander McQueen; and Matthew Drinkwater, Head of Fashion Innovation Agency at London College of Fashion, UAL.

Winners from the previous Innovation Challenges include Lone Design Club, a platform where independent brands and conscious shoppers meet; Sparkbox, a retail planning and optimisation platform powered by machine learning; and Biophilica for their entirely plant-based, compostable leather alternative, Treekind.

Fashion District was founded in 2018 with a goal to bring together fashion, technology, business and education in east London to meet, compete, collaborate and innovate. Fashion District works with a number of different partners to facilitate support programmes helping to develop a strong, sustainable network within the UK fashion industry. Spearheaded by Director Helen Lax, Fashion District is supported by London College of Fashion, UAL, and the Mayor of London.


Arda Biomaterials
Arda Biomaterials transforms globally abundant waste and co-product streams into scalable, animal, and plastic-free biomaterials. Arda’s first transformation is turning spent grain from the beer brewing and whisky distilling industries into a novel, leather-like material called New Grain, for use in fashion, automotive, and other sectors.

Fab Materials
Fab Materials are on a mission to deliver planet scale upcycling of the world’s post-consumer fashion waste. Our breakthrough solution addresses the 90M tonnes of clothing that’s sent to landfill or incinerated annually. We convert hard to recycle fashion waste into valuable boards and composites.

Fibe is revolutionising the industry by engineering cutting-edge technology to extract cellulosic fibres from potato harvest waste. This untapped waste, which amounts to 150M tonnes annually and cannot be fed to livestock or compost, has the potential to provide 70% of global non-synthetic clothing demand. Our fibres use 99% less water, produce 82% less CO2e and require no land compared to cotton.

Fiiba is a next generation textile developer, scaling sustainable materials for the fashion industry made from 100% agricultural waste. Fiiba fibre has 1/10 the carbon footprint of conventional cotton and a 100% transparent supply chain. Fiiba raises low-income farmers out of poverty by paying for their waste and providing free organic fertiliser (a natural by-product of Fiiba’s innovation) that promotes long-term soil health.

Oxford Biopigments
Oxford Biopigments (OBP) mission is to solve key problems associated with sustainable textile dyeing. To this end we have developed a world first in plant-based, sustainable dyes: naturally lightfast dye molecules, modified to work without additional binding agents, that are easily blended to generate new colours and are compatible with existing dyeing machinery. Crucially, our dyes have equivalent technical performance to modern synthetic dyes without the harmful environmental impact.

PACT designs elegant biomaterials made in harmony with the planet Earth. We’re committed to helping the world’s most innovative companies dream without boundaries. Our first biomaterial Oval is inspired by generations of leather artisans and master craftspeople, Oval is a supple material made from collagen sourced from industrial by-products. It’s a highly scalable material that offers designers unparalleled flexibility whilst minimising environmental impacts across the entire production process.

Sequinova is a pioneering biomaterials company, revolutionising the textiles industry with cutting-edge biodegradable sequin materials. Plant-based, non-toxic, and available in a variety of colours and effects, we’ve partnered with the world’s leading manufacturers in Europe and Asia to deliver production-ready eco textiles at scale.

The Seam
The Seam delivers wardrobe care & repair at scale, pairing local, specialist Makers with people and brands to keep fashion out of landfill, and in the loop. The Seam is the fastest growing care and repair service in the UK powered by intelligent tech. Their network of specialists includes tailors, cobblers, leather restorers, knitwear menders, skewer cleaners, embroidery artists and so much more.

TRUSS is a London-based fashion technology SME focused on enhancing the second-hand fashion market through AI solutions and in-depth research. TRUSS aims to simplify the resale process through instant access to actionable data, removing the need for online research and manual data entry, while prioritising information and narratives.

Zori Tex
Zori Tex is a climate tech start-up on a mission to drive circularity in the hugely resource intensive fashion and textiles industry through innovative AI-powered technologies – combining machine vision and the latest deep learning networks to optimise the sorting and availability of complex non-reusable feedstocks, ready for closed loop recycling.

This year’s Manufacturing Futures prize will include:

  • Cash prize of £15,000 for the winner and £5,000 each for two runners-up
  • Desk membership for a year at The Trampery workspace in Fish Island Village
  • Membership to UKFT providing access to their annual programme of events and webinars, networking opportunities via their extensive pool of members and supporters, and the latest market insights
  • Business membership for a year to Common Objective, accessing 30,000+ global connections, premium intelligence and training courses in sustainable fashion and manufacturing
  • The runners up will also receive professional memberships to Common Objective
  • Business development consultancy hours from PANGAIA

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