Unlocking the Next Level: New Funding Programme Aims to Scale Fashion Innovation

The new Trailblazer Programme, presented by GFA & PDS Ventures, is seeking promising early-stage innovators who are working to accelerate the transformation of the fashion and textile industry with planet positive solutions. 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.

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13 March 2024: Global Fashion Agenda (GFA), a non-profit organisation accelerating the transition to a net positive fashion industry, has collaborated with PDS Ventures, the innovation and investment arm of PDS Limitedto launch a new Trailblazer Programme. The new initiative seeks to identify fashion’s most promising early-stage innovators and support them on their journey to scale.

As part of the Trailblazer Programme, PDS Ventures will award one innovator a significant investment of up to USD 200,000* to accelerate the company’s growth and positive impact in the fashion industry. The winner will also receive commercial and operational support from PDS Group’s Positive Materials – a textile company and strategic research partner supporting the development and acceleration of low impact textile innovation through collaboration between early-stage start-ups, supply chain partners and brands. Further scaling opportunities will be gained through access to PDS Limited’s extensive global supply chain.

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. 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. 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’. Inspired by a significant milestone, 2024 marks 15 years since the inaugural Global Fashion Summit was hosted in 2009. This pivotal anniversary offers a special moment to not only take stock of the evolution of the sector and the progress made so far, but, most importantly, look ahead at what actions must urgently be implemented in the near term, and the gaps that must be filled to accelerate industry transformation.

Federica Marchionni, CEO, Global Fashion Agenda, says: “Innovation is a fundamental component to transforming the current fashion system to one that benefits people and the planet. Yet, to truly achieve impact at scale, innovation and investment go hand-in-hand. In a time of significant economic challenges, it is more important than ever that the fashion ecosystem prioritises investment in early-stage solutions so that we can bring them to fruition and make them last. Through this programme and the support from PDS Ventures, GFA is striving to help innovation thrive.”

Pallak Seth, Founder and Executive Vice Chairman, PDS Limited, says: “We are incredibly proud to partner with the Global Fashion Agenda to establish the Trailblazer programme. There has never been a more urgent time than now for true industry support for climate-first innovators with, not only financial investment but most crucially, mentoring and support to unlock the scaling potential of early-stage innovators. At PDS Ventures we are committed to supporting young pioneering businesses and have had the privilege of working with some of the most exciting start-ups from their earliest days accelerating their mission to make a positive impact in the fashion industry.”

Early-stage innovators can apply to participate in the programme now. View the criteria for applicants. Applications close on 31 March. 


*PDS Ventures will invest between USD 50,000 – USD 200,000 in the winning company, specific amount to invest is contingent upon the winning company’s stage and status. The ultimate decision regarding the investment amount will be determined according to PDS Venture’s internal procedures.

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