NASA, Nike and USAID Seek Sustainable Ideas in Textiles

LAUNCH challenge 2013

A call for sustainable ideas that revolutionize the development of  fabrics.

Back in 2010 NASA, Nike, the US Agency for International Development and the US Department of State joined forces in an effort to bring together sustainable ideas for developing solutions to global challenges. Called LAUNCH, this worldwide initiative has been creating an open forum for the presentation of various sustainability solutions for issues such as energy, health and water.

For 2013 the LAUNCH Systems Challenge 2013 the team is looking for solutions in the development, manufacturing and recyclability of textiles, with successful submissions to be presented at the end of September. This year’s challenge looks to “transform the system of fabrics to one that advances equitable global economic growth, drives human prosperity and replenishes the planet’s resources.”

LAUNCH challenge 2013

The challenge is calling for innovations with the potential to scale up in two years, alongside early stage technologies with a focus on positive environmental and social impact. Anything from business models and financial instruments to technologies, research accelerators and education schemes will be accepted, as well as education. Submissions should align with at least one of the following points of interest:

In textiles:

  • Multi-purpose synthetic and biosynthetic materials.
  • Smart and/or self-­healing materials.
  • Technical fabrics with novel or surprising attributes.
  • Fabrics that efficiently and effectively enable recycling.
  • Applications that eliminate toxins in fabrics.
  • Models that accelerate the development of low or positive environmental impact fabrics.
  • Data generation and capture technologies and mechanisms that enable traceability across a product or fabric’s lifecycle.
  • Decision support and educational tools that guide positive impact design and inform better choices of chemistries and materials.
  • Open technology platforms to enable sharing, collaboration, contribution and unlimited accessibility to data that improves the analysis of sustainability impacts and stimulates an open data ecosystem.

In textile manufacturing:

  • Solutions that increase energy, water, and raw material efficiency in the manufacturing process.
  • Manufacturing processes and technologies that enable maximum conversion of materials and minimum consumption of natural resources.
  • Solutions that put workers at the heart of the innovation process.
  • Zero waste or closed loop systems that eliminate waste and create equitable, empowered workforces.
  • Scalable, innovative business models that are sustainable and equitable.
  • Manufacturing processes that reuse waste.
  • Programs that support local business inclusion across the system of fabrics.
  • Information and data exchanges that build entrepreneurial capacity & worker inclusion.
  • Data generation and capture technologies and mechanisms to increase transparency across the value chain.

LAUNCH challenge 2013

The challenge is now open for submissions and early-bird submissions are due by June 15th, and  the challenge closes on July 15th. Proposals from companies (small to large), consultants, entrepreneurs, inventors, non-­profits, research institutions, social enterprises and venture capitalists are welcome. The 10 winners of the challenge will be announced at the forum held from September 26th to 28th, 2013, where their innovations will also be presented. Although no cash prize is awarded, the winners will receive support, networking and mentoring from influential business and government leaders.

If you don’t quite meet the criteria of the LAUNCH challenge, check out the nano-challenge for university students. This complementing challenge will be accepting submissions that adhere to the same criteria and timeline as the official challenge, and will be acknowledged at the September forum. Make sure to spread to word or begin working on your own submission!