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

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 Limited, to 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.

For more information contact press@globalfashionagenda.org

About Global Fashion Agenda

Global Fashion Agenda (GFA) is a non-profit organisation that fosters industry collaboration on sustainability in fashion to accelerate impact. With the vision of a net positive fashion industry, it drives action by mobilising, inspiring, influencing and educating all stakeholders.

The organisation has been leading the movement since 2009 and presents the renowned international forum on sustainability in fashion, Global Fashion Summit in core fashion regions around the world. GFA influences policy through its advocacy efforts including the Global Textiles Policy Forum, publishes thought leadership including The GFA Monitor,  Fashion CEO Agenda and Fashion on Climate, implements impact programmes including the Circular Fashion Partnership and the Global Circular Fashion Forum, presents educational guidance through the GFA Academy, and connects companies with solutions through the Innovation Forum,

Working in partnership with a wide ecosystem of companies and organisations across the value chain, GFA spearheads the fashion industry’s journey towards a more sustainable future. Through its work, GFA reaches thousands of stakeholders including brands, innovators, NGOs, policy makers, manufacturers, investors and more.

About PDS Ventures

PDS Ventures is the innovation and investment arm of PDS Group with a $50m fund dedicated to supporting and investing in innovative startups in the fashion sector With a focus on climate-led innovation, PDS Ventures aims to drive positive change within the industry by strategically partnering with portfolio companies to unlock value throughout the PDS Limited network consisting of over 600 factory partners and 250+ consumer brands and retail businesses.

As the only structured Corporate Venture Capital arm within the fashion supply chain and a leading investor in early stage innovations, PDS Ventures’ investment portfolio spans across material science, manufacturing solutions & processes, post consumer & circular solutions, supply chain transparency/traceability and fashion tech enablers.


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