The winner received this original trophy

Manufacturing Futures 2021

Image credit: Biophilica, Clean Ocean Fiber Tech, Tom Mannion, Pattern Project, Petit Pli, Charlie Williams

As London Fashion Week begins, the IET has partnered with the Fashion District and the Fashion Innovation Agency from the London College of Fashion, UAL, to launch a special prize – Manufacturing Futures 2021 – supporting technological innovations which are solving the manufacturing challenges facing the fashion industry today.

The Fashion District Innovation Challenge Prizes are designed to find solutions to current industry issues, develop new innovations and support SMEs.

Sponsored by the IET, the theme for 2021 focuses on ‘Manufacturing Futures’, where the Challenge set out to uncover and support businesses with ideas that aim to revolutionise the fashion supply chain.

This year’s shortlist was selected by a panel of industry experts. Ten start-ups made the cut, showing “true innovation and the potential to change the future of manufacturing”.

Since May, the ten shortlisted entries have received business and investment advice from industry and manufacturing experts. Each pitched their innovations to judges from Pangaia, H&M Co Labs, Make UK, IBM, FIA and the IET, which was followed by an industry and investor supper in London on 7 September, where the winner was announced.

The winner was Biophilica for Treekind, an entirely plant-based, compostable leather alternative for the fashion industry.

Highly Commended honours went to Modern Synthesis, a bio-materials start-up making cellulose materials by growing microbes, and Nanoloom, a company that creates biodegradable fibre from a unique nanomaterial based on graphene.

IET president Danielle George pointed out that engineering plays an important role in the world of fashion, and said that Manufacturing Futures gave the opportunity to shine a spotlight on start-ups that are applying technology and science to tackle the urgent environmental needs of the fashion industry.

“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,” George added.

Fashion District director Helen Lax said: “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.”

Winner: Biophilica

Treekind by Biophilica is a plant-based leather alternative for the fashion industry. It is said to be carbon-negative, recyclable as green waste, home compostable, non-toxic and free of plastic and petrochemicals.


Carbon-negative Treekind is a plant-based leather alternative that is non-toxic and free of plastics

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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 business incubator Mills Fabrica.

Tech corporation IBM will provide bespoke business support that uses design thinking to produce an action plan, and Common Objective, a business network for the fashion industry, will offer a 12-month business membership with global connections, premium intelligence and training courses.

Highly commended: Nanoloom

Nanoloom creates biodegradable fibre from a unique nanomaterial called BioHastalex, which is based on graphene. Said to be strong, light, flexible and durable, BioHastalex can be made to attract or repel water without additives, doesn’t shed, and is scalable. Nanoloom currently focuses on performance apparel but says the fibre is suitable for numerous applications.

Highly commended: Modern Synthesis

This London based biomaterial start-up ‘connects the dots’ between biology, material science and design to create biomaterials for the fashion industry.


Modern Synthesis used bacteria to build the upper of a shoe by ‘growing’ the weft onto a fibre warp scaffold in a ‘microbial weaving’ process

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The company’s ‘microbial weaving’ process uses microbes to grow a strong, lightweight cellulose-based composite material that is naturally biodegradable and has potential for customisation.

Shortlisted: Clean Ocean Fiber Tech

Clean Ocean Fiber Technology is a textile business that creates new yarn by binding any recycled raw material with natural and bio-artificial spun yarn.


Clean Ocean Fiber Tech reduces the polluting effect of textiles and protects the environment

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It aims to reduce the polluting effect of textiles and protects the environment by preventing fibre shedding in clothing, while providing greater durability and better circularity.

Shortlisted: Clearchain

This software platform for supply chain mapping, compliance auditing and reporting prides itself on being easy, low-cost and high-value. Companies can get answers about sustainability, Net Zero, and ethical compliance, and the ‘simple’ user interface eliminates clutter. Additionally, users can map supply chains and conduct compliance audits on one or more vendors.

Shortlisted: 2Dtronics by G Square

The fabrics are made from composites of nanomaterials with recycled or natural fibres giving enhanced strength, durability and comfort. Garments will also be embedded with smart sensing functions using graphene-conductive inks.

Shortlisted: Nanofique Limited

This company works with bio-composites of nanostructured material to degrade dyes in wastewater, removing colour and associated harmful effects. Nanofique also separates, removes and upgrades heavy metal ions and salt without producing sludge, and recycles the water. The product is catalytic and biodegradable and the bio element can be grown without the use of irrigation, fertiliser or pesticides.

Shortlisted: Pattern Project

Pattern Project is a clothing micro-factory, developing machinery and software to enable users to produce custom-fit clothing in-store and on-demand.

Pattern Project develops machinery and software to enable users to produce custom-fit clothing

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The software generates a made-to-measure pattern from customer measurements and sends it to a desktop cutting machine. The company claims that a ready-to-sew garment can be created in as little as 10 minutes.

Shortlisted: Petit Pli

This wearable technology company makes clothing that can grow up to seven sizes using a patented technology.

Petit Pli’s clothing grows up to seven sizes using a patented technology

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Aeronautical engineer Ryan Mario Yasin founded Petit Pli in 2017, determined to pioneer a new approach to slow fashion, drawing inspiration from his background in deployable nanosatellite structures. The clothes are made using renewable energy and recycled materials.

Shortlisted: Terra Neutra

Terra Neutra provides services that measure the carbon footprint of a product and allow customers to offset the impact in their shopping basket. The company’s mission is to create a carbon-positive world, so we can live more sustainably, raising awareness of climate impact, enabling reduction, and offsetting any residual emissions.

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