Last update on: 9:27 am July 9, 2024 by fashionabc

CISL Virtual Accelerator Programme To Empower Innovators To Transform The Fashion Status Quo

University of Cambridge’s free Virtual Accelerator Program aims to bring together a select cohort of designers and fashion start-ups to provide business support to help them scale without compromising their values. 

The fast fashion industry has far-reaching impacts on both people and therefore the planet. It accounts for ten percent of worldwide greenhouse emission emissions, depletes natural resources particularly water, uses harmful chemicals in great quantities and generates vast levels of waste and micro-plastic pollution once in use.

Rapid innovation is required to revolutionise the fashion industry as we all know it. Garment production is one among the world’s largest and most labour-intensive industries with estimates of 75 million people worldwide and mostly women. Crucially, the availability chain funnels extra money toward modern slavery than the other industry besides tech.

Today’s designers and fashion brands have the tools, technologies and ingenuity to satisfy these challenges head-on, make positive change and re-imagine currently damaging systems. The CISL Accelerator is trying to find early-stage start-ups and established fashion SMEs on a mission to try to do just that.

As it was stated in a recent PR: “This free Accelerator programme will bring together a select cohort of designers and fashion start-ups to provide business support to help them scale without compromising their values. It will demonstrate the latest in sustainability innovation for the industry and how to make the most of sustainability credentials to grow a business and enter new markets. Delivered over five weeks of interactive online sessions, with contributors from the United Nations, the University of Cambridge and experts from the fashion, investment and tech sectors.”

This programme is designed for innovators in sustainable fashion and provides insights from leading innovators and experts driving change in the fashion industry. It allows them to learn about sustainable sourcing and connect with ethical manufacturers; develop their pitch, with insight on business planning and marketing; learn how to tell their sustainability story and use it to reach their audience and build a network with other innovators in sustainable fashion.

Innovators will have the chance to learn from top fashion industry leaders and mentors like

Yuly Fuentes-Medel – Project Manager for Fiber Technologies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Founder of Value of Science LLC

Michael Stanley-Jones Co-Secretary, UN Alliance for Sustainable Fashion, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

Cath Tayleur – Senior Programme Manager of Business and Nature, CISL

Shaunie Brett – Sustainability Consultant, Sussed Consulting

Sean Ansett – President, At Stake Advisors

Bohao Li – Independent Consultant, Former Consultant for Creative Economy Program & Curator for International Fashion Showcase by British Council and British Fashion Council

Lara Pizzato – FashionTech and Sustainability Consultant, Founder of Fueled

Programme overview

The programme will take place over five weeks, with virtual sessions on Wednesday 18 November (10:00-12:30), Tuesday 24 November (15:00-17:00), Thursday 26 November (10:00-12:00), Tuesday 1 December (10:00-11:30), Thursday 3 December (10:00-11:30), Tuesday 8 December (15:00-16:30), Thursday 10 December (10:00-11:30) and Wednesday 16 December (10:00-12:30). Sessions are in mornings and afternoons so as to facilitate participation from speakers in different time zones.

Week one: Introduction and challenges – virtual meet the cohort, introduce your concept and explore the systemic and interdependent sustainability challenges facing the fashion industry.

Week two A: Big picture thinking – understand why the industry must generate social and environmental value in a sustainable way and explore the future of the textile value chain.

Week two B: Innovation showroom –meet six fashion startups that are pioneering zero-waste fashion and disrupting the market with sustainable materials, services, garments and business models.

Week three: Business Labs – two sessions to explore the essentials of small business planning: create a compelling value proposition and learn how to successfully market your brand.

Week four: Business Labs – the first will delve into the power of storytelling and how to win over your audience; the second will offer insights on how to access new, global markets.

Week five: Pitch practice – receive peer-to-peer and industry expert feedback on your concept.

This programme is part funded by the European Union’s European Regional Development Fund, and is available for free to SMEs based in England, with priority given to those in parts of the East of England.

We’re looking for late and early stage start-ups, as well as established SMEs who wish to build and grow their sustainable fashion business.

Applicants must be based in England and be available to attend the full five week programme. The online sessions will be delivered weekly or bi-weekly from Wednesday 18 November, with a time commitment of between 2-4 hours per week. Total hours: 17.

To apply, please complete their online application form. Applications close Monday 2 November.