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The Fashion District is delighted to announce the launch of Manufacturing Futures 2024: Fashion District Innovation Challenge Prize on 8th Feb 2024.

Our annual innovation challenges are are designed to find solutions to current industry issues, while supporting new innovations and SMEs. This year our focus is manufacturing, and we’re specifically on the lookout for technological innovations and sustainable solutions which are solving any of the complex fashion manufacturing challenges facing the industry. This could include anything from:

  • Materials innovation
  • Digital innovation
  • Manufacturing processes
  • Waste management
  • Supply-chain and logistics
  • Transparency and traceability
  • Circular economy
  • End-of-use

We also seek to encourage tech solutions, perhaps from other sectors, that could be applied to fashion manufacturing and create interdisciplinary connections between technologists and engineers, and fashion creatives and manufacturers.

Manufacturing Futures will give start-ups and SMEs the chance to win cash prizes, business support, and the opportunity to pitch to some of the industry’s leading brands and innovators.

This competition is now closed

Sponsored By



25 MARCH 2024

Deadline to submit applications.

25 APRIL 2024

Shortlisted finalists announced.

9 MAY 2024

Critical Friends Day where industry professionals will critique the finalist's business proposition across different specialisms before their final presentation.

30 MAY 2024

Production and Business Development day, in partnership with FIA and Techstyler. International industry experts will help finalists to evaluate and refine their technological solutions.

19 JUNE 2024

Investment Readiness Development Day with TRUE Global where shortlisted applicants will be given support with investment strategy and delivering their pitches ahead of the final presentation to the judging panel.

3rd JULY 2024

Closed presentation event with the finalists to industry experts from UKFT, Selfridges, FIA, PANGAIA, and Alexander McQueen. Following the presentations, the winner will be announced at an Awards Supper for industry guests, supported by venue partner The Conduit.

Judges & Critical Friends

Gillian Lipton

MANUFACTURING FUTURES JUDGE | Gillian has worked in the retail sector for over 25 years and has always pursued opportunities to make a difference. Having worked on and implemented sustainability strategies for some of the most well-known names on the British High Street including: Monsoon Accessorize, Topshop, Burton, and Miss Selfridge, Gillian is currently Sustainability Director at Alexander McQueen where she and her team of four work with colleagues from all departments and globally to maximise the company's positive impacts.

Adam Mansell

MANUFACTURING FUTURES JUDGE | Adam is the CEO of UKFT. Having joined the industry 25 years ago, he has worked across a wide number of trade bodies, representing all aspects of the fashion and textile supply chain. Additionally, Adam is Chair of the Future Fashion Factory, Board Member at the University of Leeds’ School of Design Industrial Advisory Board, and Vice President of Ginetex, the international care labelling organisation, as well as holding positions at CAPITB Trust, Textiles 2030 and the Institute for Positive Fashion.

Ella Gould

MANUFACTURING FUTURES JUDGE | Selfridges vision is to re-invent retail, creating a sustainable future for people and planet. In Ella’s role as Head of Sustainability, she leads strategy and exploration to achieve the key goals that underpin this ambition including: more sustainable sourcing, 45% circular by 2030, Net Zero by 2040 and the future of luxury through a positive impact lens.

Matthew Drinkwater

MANUFACTURING FUTURES JUDGE | Matthew is a world-renowned expert in emerging technologies and their application to the creative industries. A specialist in immersive technologies (XR/MR/AR/VR), he and his team are building pathways for a truly digitised world. Named as a ‘fashion-tech trailblazer’ by Draper’s and a ‘pioneer and a visionary’ by Wired, Matthew has delivered ground-breaking experiences and a stunning range of projects that have captured the imagination of both the fashion and technology industries.

Chelsea Franklin

MANUFACTURING FUTURES JUDGE | Currently the Head of Advanced Concept Design at PANGAIA, Chelsea has over ten years of experience working at the intersection of technology, design and research. She has led multiple projects commercialising new technology into fashion and lifestyle products, exploring new materials, production methods and supply chain models.

Rory Hugill

MANUFACTURING FUTURES CRITICAL FRIEND | Rory is a Senior Manager within the Responsible Innovation team at PANGAIA. He's responsible for executing against the Responsible Innovation Strategy and managing the innovation pipeline at PANGAIA. He has significant experience working on the commercialisation of new materials, technologies and business models in the fashion industry - most notably with PANGAIA ReWear. He has 5+ years experience assisting start-ups in the sustainable fashion space - spending 3 years at Fashion for Good prior to his time at PANGAIA.

Moin Roberts-Islam

MANUFACTURING FUTURES CRITICAL FRIEND | Moin is a fashion-tech consultant, innovator and mentor with a strong history of working on pioneering projects across sustainability, fashion and emerging technology. As the Technology & Innovation Manager at the Fashion Innovation Agency, Moin has worked on ground-breaking, large-scale digital collaborative projects with Microsoft, The Fabricant, ILMxLab, Verizon Media and PANGAIA in recent years, harnessing technologies such as augmented reality, volumetric capture, generative artificial intelligence and markerless motion capture along the way.

Carol Hilsum

MANUFACTURING FUTURES CRITICAL FRIEND | Carol has worked in senior growth roles for the last 20 years in leading companies in the fashion sector such as Topshop, Net-a-Porter, and Farfetch. With extensive experience in startups and early-stage growth, including leading the Dream Assembly accelerator and corporate ventures at Farfetch, including investment in 40+ companies and 3 acquisitions. She is also an investment advisor to leading fashion tech VCs such as TLF Ventures and Imaginary Ventures. She recently co-founded StudioThree supporting their clients with growth and investment strategies.

Aarthi Thangavel

MANUFACTURING FUTURES CRITICAL FRIEND | Aarthi is an Associate at True exploring opportunities from both an investment and corporate innovation perspectives. She works with brands and retailers such as Abercrombie & Fitch, M&S and TJX to navigate the innovation landscape. Amongst the multiple innovation areas she covers at True, sustainability is one of her core interests. This covers a broad spectrum of topics from the future of materials in fashion and packaging to the future of food with alternative proteins.

Danielle Le Toullec

MANUFACTURING FUTURES CRITICAL FRIEND | Danielle’s career in marketing spans fourteen years, across two continents. She honed her skills predominantly at the world's largest media agency, working with brands including Bose, McDonald’s and Estee Lauder. A pandemic pivoter, Danielle was headhunted into the world of investment, and now heads up marketing & communications at True, one of the fastest growing firms in Europe. She is passionate about championing purpose-driven investment and creating opportunities to improve access to the investment industry.

Anna Ellis

MANUFACTURING FUTURES CRITICAL FRIEND | With 30 years of experience in the fashion industry, Anna has delivered production and supply chain strategies to brands including Gloverall, Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein. She is currently Head of Business Development at Making for Change, the London College of Fashion's training and manufacturing social initiative. At Making for Change, Anna and her team are creating new approaches to manufacturing. Working with local east London communities and women in prison, they aim to change perceptions of fashion production and break barriers to employment.

Thushara Sabreen

MANUFACTURING FUTURES CRITICAL FRIEND | Thushara is an alumna from London College of Fashion – MA Fashion Entrepreneurship & Innovation (Distinction), Accelerate Cambridge University Judge Business School and published co-author (The Book of Advanced Fashion Technology & Operations Management). Previously, she was the global wearable technology consultant to Stretchline Holdings (world’s largest narrow fabric manufacturer).

Muchaneta Ten Napel

MANUFACTURING FUTURES CRITICAL FRIEND | UAL Alumni Muchaneta ten Napel is the founder of Shape Innovate, an organisation that bridges the gap between policy and fashion, as well as, a digital platform at the intersection of fashion and tech. Committed to climate action, Muchaneta collaborates with global organisations like UNFCCC and Climate KIC and has previously took to the stage at COP27 and COP28. Besides chairing the Culture and Creative Industries Taskforce under the UN Climate Change Global Innovation Hub, Muchaneta also serves as an Associate Lecturer at London College of Fashion, UAL.

Jo Gregory

MANUFACTURING FUTURES CRITICAL FRIEND | Jo is a Partner at Joelson, which she joined in 2006 to set up the Litigation and Dispute Resolution Team. Jo heads up that team and also heads up the Retail & Fashion team.

Sheldon Cordell

MANUFACTURING FUTURES CRITICAL FRIEND | Sheldon has had, and continues to have, an extensive and varied career in the legal business world, which spans over 35 years of actively advising clients. Sheldon is Chairman of Joelson, and began his career as a trainee with the firm in 1978, becoming a partner in 1984. As head of our Corporate & Commercial team, Sheldon advises UK and international clients on a wide range of transactions.

Stuart Balmer

MANUFACTURING FUTURES CRITICAL FRIEND | Stuart Balmer is a freelance business advice consultant offering services for the creative industries, which include strategy planning, financial planning and business development. He has over 25 years experience of running his own fashion brand and 10 years experience in business consulting having delivered programmes for the likes of British Council, Creative United, UAL, The British Library Business Unit, Deutsche Bank, NatWest Bank, Goldsmiths University and Southbank University and many local authorities in London and through-out the UK.

Daniel Whitley

MANUFACTURING FUTURES CRITICAL FRIEND | As Strategic Design Manager, Daniel works across the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Circular Design team and network of organisations. Having worked within the fashion industry throughout his whole career, Daniel holds extensive experience working closely with designers, product creation teams, and the wider value chain. The Foundation's Circular Design team seek to engage, inspire and enable designers and organisations to redesign products, services and systems for a circular economy. Where, through design, we can eliminate waste and pollution, circulate products and materials, and regenerate nature.

Gabrielle Shiner-Hill

MANUFACTURING FUTURES CRITICAL FRIEND | Gabrielle has 20 years of experience in design and manufacturing, leading teams at global manufacturers like Esquel and Dewhirst. She has worked with brands such as Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, and Burberry in both New York and London, specialising in fabric simulation and software training. Formerly a Course Leader at Ravensbourne University London, in 2022 Gabrielle co-founded the digital agency Bureau 555 with a mission to reduce waste in the fashion and textile industry. Trained at Central St. Martins in Textile Design, she champions digital literacy and 3D skills in the fashion and textile industry from her base in London.

Nicola Eibich

MANUFACTURING FUTURES CRITICAL FRIEND | Nicola is the visionary founder of M-EASURE, London’s fashion consultancy for creating and implementing advanced solutions for the transition towards a circular supply chain. With over three decades of experience, she has cultivated unparalleled expertise spanning global sourcing & manufacturing, product design & development, and marketing & sales across discount, premium, and luxury markets. Nicola embarked on her sustainability journey by (re)creating an upcycled denim jacket for Rihanna in 2009, initiating an entire couture range made from leftover stock of her denim brand Blessed & Cursed. Inspired by numerous conversations with the world's leading and key influencing luxury and designer brands in her latest role as Chief Commercial Officer for a highly committed manufacturing powerhouse, Nicola redirected her career to circular fashion. Leveraging her powerful network and experience, she collaborates with global businesses, dedicated to paving the way for a sustainable future of fashion.

Holly Smith

MANUFACTURING FUTURES CRITICAL FRIEND | As an Innovation Lead, Holly builds collaborative relationships between SMEs, the UK government and large enterprises in the emerging technology ecosystem. She combines her experience in academic engagement, programme design and science communication to advise technology SMEs and government clients on the development of new innovative products, services and initiatives. Prior to Plexal, Holly worked at Imperial College London managing communications for cutting-edge EU research projects, and at a creative agency where she led programmes that promote engagement with science, technology and the arts.

Katarina Rimarcikova

MANUFACTURING FUTURES CRITICAL FRIEND | Katarina's industry experience covers design, product development, manufacturing innovation, production and product sourcing, buying, curation and generating of retail concepts, creative direction for events, fashion shows, store concepts, innovative materials and products, and new business models. She has collaborated with and consulted many companies, designers and projects including EU innovation industry initiatives, circular systems and future fashion projects. Her expertise lies in fibres, materials, design & manufacturing innovation, circular models and responsible supply chain, sustainability research and communication. She operates as a creative and sustainability consultant, mentor and director for start- ups, lecturer and director of ALIGN, creative studio for Sustainable, innovative and creative solutions for fashion education, brands and industry.

Elisah van Allen

Elisah is the Head of Social at 33Seconds, a creative communications agency specialising in PR, Social and Influencer. She has been working in social media marketing for over 15 years, delivering successful social media channel, content and influencer strategies for major brands such as Sky, Disney+, Intercontinental Hotel Group, Macmillan Cancer Support, Waitrose, Starbucks and more. She believes in the power of social media to create real connections and meaningful consumer conversations for brands.

Criteria, Eligibility & Terms and Conditions


Each applicant and proposed manufacturing solution will be judged against 4 criterion:

Criterion 1: Solving an identified problem
An identified need and/or gap in the market
An innovative concept with a clear solution

Criterion 2: Size of the market
A USP that stands out from others currently in the market?
Is it a growing market and a future opportunity?

Criterion 3: Potential to scale
Addresses a specific and relevant industry issue
Strong plans for development and delivery

Criterion 4: Leadership and strength of team
Exceptional entrepreneurship
Relevant industry and/tech skill set within team or the individual



To be eligible to apply you must have a tech-based solution, be a registered business, and either be operating in the UK or have plans to pilot/operate in the UK.



Click here to read the terms and conditions for Manufacturing Futures 2024. This competition is being promoted by Fashion District, University of the Arts London, 272 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EY.