Trailblazer Programme

Identifying fashion’s most promising early-stage innovators and supporting them on their journey to scale.

Trailblazer 2024

The Programme is seeking early-stage innovators who are working to accelerate the transformation of the fashion and textile industry with planet positive solutions that align with GFA’s Fashion CEO Agenda priorities.

As part of the Trailblazer Programme, one winning company will receive an equity investment of up to $200,000* in addition to commercial and operational support to help bring the innovation to scale.

*specific amount to invest is contingent upon the winning company’s stage and status

In Collaboration with

Programme Activities

Eight shortlisted innovations will be enrolled in a group of Trailblazers, receiving feedback and investment pitch training from industry experts and PDS representatives.

Each shortlisted innovator will then pitch for a potential investment, with  the winning Trailblazer being revealed at GFA’s Global Fashion Summit: Copenhagen Edition 2024 – the leading international forum for sustainability in fashion, on 22-23 May at the Copenhagen Concert Hall.

All shortlisted Trailblazers will also have the opportunity to showcase their businesses within an exhibit at the Summit to connect with other key industry stakeholders and potential investors.

The Trailblazer Programme corresponds with the theme of the upcoming Global Fashion Summit – ‘Unlocking The Next Level’.

Jury Members

 

Applicants will be reviewed and shortlisted by an esteemed Jury including representatives from GFA, PDS Ventures, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Ralph Lauren Corporation, Fashion For Good and H&M Group.

    Jason Berns

    Head of Product & Manufacturing Innovation, Ralph Lauren Corporation

    Jason Berns

    Head of Product & Manufacturing Innovation, Ralph Lauren Corporation

    Jason Berns is the Head of Product & Manufacturing Innovation at Ralph Lauren Corporation. Berns leads a team that identifies unique, consumer-focused opportunities in key product areas. Notably, this includes the launch of the world’s first scalable apparel serialization and authentication programme – Digital Product IDs – which has been implemented on hundreds of millions of items globally. At Ralph Lauren, Berns has led the implementation of 3D design and development, the creation of a recycled, waterless version of the iconic polo shirt, and marquee, innovative technologies for the U.S. Olympic team uniforms – such as Intelligent Insulation, a first-to-market fabric that adapts to cooler temperatures by expanding and creating a layer of insulation. He has also supported Ralph Lauren’s investment in NFW, a leading sustainable material science startup. With his leadership, the Company has used NFW’s CLARUS® and MIRUM® technologies in its products. In August 2020, Berns was appointed to serve as an NFW Board Member. Through his work at Ralph Lauren, he continues to drive initiatives in recycling technologies and on-demand manufacturing to support a circular economy. Prior to joining Ralph Lauren in 2016, Berns led the open innovation team at Under Armour Inc. He has also spent part of his career at Salomon Sports, Arc’teryx Equipment, and Fisher Price. He holds a Bachelor of Science Industrial Design from the University of Cincinnati. In addition to serving on NFW’s Board, he is an advisor at Sway Ventures.

    Jonas Eder-Hansen

    Chief Operating Officer, Global Fashion Agenda

    Jonas Eder-Hansen

    Chief Operating Officer, Global Fashion Agenda

    Jonas Eder-Hansen is the Chief Operating Officer at Global Fashion Agenda (GFA). Jonas is responsible for designing and implementing policies that drive GFA and its stakeholders to reach a net positive fashion industry. Jonas oversees GFA’s operations, public affairs and educational activities, including Global Fashion Summit - the leading international forum for sustainability in fashion. With more than ten years of tenure at GFA, Jonas has deep insights in driving industry change. Recently, Jonas spearheaded GFA’s increased strategic focus on engaging policymakers to accelerate the fashion industry’s urgent transition to a circular economy. Since 2017 Jonas sits on the Board of Directors of Sustainable Apparel Coalition representing affiliate members of the industry-wide multi-stakeholder initiative. Jonas was formerly Development Director for Danish Fashion Institute. Prior to that, he was Research Director at Copenhagen Business School’s Centre for Sustainability.

    Dr. Yuly Fuentes Medel

    Program Director for Textiles, Climate Grand Challenges, Massachusetts Insitute of Technology

    Dr. Yuly Fuentes Medel

    Program Director for Textiles, Climate Grand Challenges, Massachusetts Insitute of Technology

    Dr. Yuly Fuentes-Medel is a catalyst of creative ideas and ecosystem builder and pioneer in the intersection of Fashion, Technology, Climate change and business. Now working as Program Director of Climate Grand Challenges & Fabric Innovation lab at the Massachusetts Institute of technology and Founder of the Footwear Collective, a non profit network of companies dedicated to solve systemic change with circular solution powered by EarthDNA Inc. As founder of Value of Science LLC she created DESCIENCE, a global collective of designers, scientists & technologists, connecting the world of science and Design as one. She was selected as Human of the year by motherhood Magazine in 2018 and received the 2015 Boston Business Magazine “Woman to Watch” Award. She graduated with a PhD in biomedical sciences from the University of Massachusetts Medical School and Postdoctoral trained at the MIT Sloan School in Technology Innovation & entrepreneurship (TIE). She currently serves as emeritus President of the board of the Chile-Massachusetts Alliance to support international exchange of investment, technological business, talent and social impact. She is a past board member of FIT Lab and a current board member of Aji Challenge, a chilean accelerator that fosters the success of technological companies in global markets. As a member of Women Entrepreneurs in Science and Technology (WEST), she received a Volunteer Giving back award. She is also an advisor to MIT Delta students’ start ups and venture Partner to Closed Loop Partners. During her time as a Ph.D. student, she helped pioneer the International workshop called “Small Brains Big Ideas”. So far, this initiative has successfully trained almost a hundred Latin-American students. Trained as a biochemist at University of Concepcion in her native Chile, she is constantly in search of opportunities to support young talent and technologies to make an impact in global markets.

    Yael Gairola

    Non-Executive Director, PDS Limited and Senior Advisor, PDS Ventures

    Yael Gairola

    Non-Executive Director, PDS Limited and Senior Advisor, PDS Ventures

    Erik Karlsson

    Head of H&M Group Ventures

    Erik Karlsson

    Head of H&M Group Ventures

    Erik Karlsson is Head of H&M Group Ventures, the venture investment arm of the H&M Group. H&M Group Ventures is a strategic investor in the fashion and retail industries and has companies such as Klarna, Sheertex, Instabee and Colorifix in the portfolio. Before taking on responsibility for the team and portfolio, Karlsson was heading up investments in sustainable practices for H&M Group Ventures. Prior to becoming an investor, he held various positions in H&M Group’s Sustainability Department. Before joining H&M Group, he worked as a sustainability consultant in the oil & gas and shipping industries. Karlsson holds a MSc in Environmental Engineering and is looking to transform the industry through investing in innovative technologies that will drive positive impact.

    Georgia Parker

    Innovation Director, Fashion for Good

    Georgia Parker

    Innovation Director, Fashion for Good

    Georgia Parker is the Innovation Director at Fashion for Good, the global initiative that convenes stakeholders in a pre-competitive space to support and embed breakthrough technologies into the fashion supply chain. She focuses on orchestrating multi stakeholder projects and pilots across the supply chain as well as running the Innovation Programme. Previously she worked at adidas in their Brand Sustainability team and was also part of the Ellen MacArthur Fellowship Programme. She has a background in business having started her career at Deloitte.

HOW TO APPLY  

GFA and PDS Ventures are presenting an open call for solution providers addressing different challenges across the fashion value chain to apply for the programme.

Before applying, please thoroughly review all questions below in the ‘Terms and Conditions’ section, as they delineate pertinent information regarding your involvement in the programme. Upon submission of your application, you acknowledge and accept the requirements associated with participation in the programme.

Deadline for Applications is 5 April, 2024.

Terms & Conditions

The Trailblazer Programme offers valuable feedback, funding opportunities and industry recognition. The winner receives an equity investment and recognition at the Global Fashion Summit. All shortlisted candidates will receive a ticket to exhibit their solutions at the Global Fashion Summit in Copenhagen in May.

By submitting your application, you commit to taking part in the Summit if you emerge as the winner. Global Fashion Agenda commits to provide the winner with funding to cover travel and accommodation during the Summit days (21-24 May).

The programme begins with an open call, followed by a selection process where shortlisted applicants will participate in a workshop, present their solutions to a jury, and potentially showcase their solutions at the Global Fashion Summit in Copenhagen.

By submitting your application, you commit to taking part in the workshops and presenting your solution to the jury if you are shortlisted.

The winner of the Trailblazer Programme will receive recognition on stage at the Global Fashion Summit. Additionally, there will be a dedicated Trailblazer Programme exhibition stand at the Summit venue where the shortlisted innovators can showcase their innovative solutions to a wide audience.

PDS Ventures is the investment partner of the Trailblazer Programme. The 2024 winner of the Trailblazer Programme will receive an equity investment from PDS Ventures. Furthermore, all shortlisted companies of the Trailblazer Programme will have the opportunity to work with PDS Ventures via their manufacturing and sourcing platform, Positive Materials.

The Trailblazer Programme will be conducted entirely online. However, for shortlisted innovators who opt to showcase their solutions at the Global Fashion Summit, attendance in person at the Summit in Copenhagen on May 21-23 is required.

Global Fashion Agenda will not cover any expenses related to participating in the Summit for the shortlisted applicants, except providing one ticket to the Summit for each innovator.

We expect the winner to diligently execute their idea according to the proposed plan, maintaining a commitment to fostering a net positive impact. Additionally, progress reports on fund utilisation must be provided to GFA and PDS Ventures at the 6-month and 12-month intervals.

If you progress to the next stage as one of the shortlisted innovations, please be aware that your availability is required for a pitching workshop scheduled on 16 April, 4-5 pm CEST, and a potential pitch day on 6 May (TBC). Furthermore, your availability to travel to and attend Global Fashion Summit: Copenhagen Edition 2024 on 21-23 May 2024 is essential.

Individuals or groups with solutions aimed at creating a net-positive impact in the fashion industry are encouraged to apply. Companies must meet specific criteria, including being under 5 years old, maximum of 10 employees, and generating less than 2 million EUR in turnover per year. Solutions must align with GFA’s Fashion CEO Agenda priorities, and applications must be in English.

The deadline for submissions is 5 April, 2024. 

.

If you are already represented in the GFA Innovation Forum, you are still eligible to apply for the Trailblazer programme, provided you meet the criteria, as stated under “Who can apply?”. However, please note that only solutions in the seed stage/early stage will be considered for participation.

If you are currently enrolled in another accelerator programme, you are still welcome to apply for the Trailblazer Programme. However, please ensure that you have sole ownership of all rights associated with your solution.

A successful application for the Trailblazer Programme is one that:

    • Clearly articulates how the solution will contribute to creating a net positive industry.
    • Provide a detailed plan for scaling the solution.
    • Demonstrates the solution’s level of novelty and innovation within the fashion industry.

GFA, PDS Ventures, and an independent jury will shortlist promising candidates, who will then pitch their solutions in front of the jury board for the final review. The winner will be announced and recognised at the Global Fashion Summit in Copenhagen.

Applicants selected for the first round will receive feedback in early April. All applicants will receive feedback mid-April.

 

Join us in May!

Global Fashion Summit: Copenhagen Edition 2024

  • May 21, 2024 / 09:00 - May 23, 2024 / 18:00
  • Copenhagen
The Global Fashion Summit has been spearheading the sustainability movement in fashion for the past decade by bringing together global industry leadership, change makers and thinkers to accelerate the transition to a more sustainable fashion industry