- Danielle Wightman-Stone |
East London industry collaboration The Fashion District has launched two programmes for fashion and technology businesses, as part of its wider plans to make London the “global hub of fashion technology”.
The first initiative, the Innovation Challenge Prize, is calling upon fashion and tech companies to bring new tech solutions for the industry’s challenges and drive future growth in the fashion industry. Open to small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the challenge prize is calling on companies that believe that their business could change the way people shop and revolutionise the retail supply chain.
Designed to find solutions to industry issues and provoke the next big innovation, the prize in collaboration with the Fashion Innovation Agency from London College of Fashion, UAL, is looking for SMEs who utilise robotics and automation, artificial intelligence, internet-of-things, augmented/virtual reality, technologies that enhance customer experience or converge digital and physical shopping.
The entry deadline is September 30 and the winner will receive 15,000 pounds cash from sponsor Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield to help develop their retail-tech innovation, as well as a 12-month membership with Stylus.
This year’s judging panel includes Carol Hilsum, director of innovation at Farfetch, Richard Bonner, head of store development at John Lewis and Partners, Matthew Drinkwater, head of the Fashion Innovation Agency at the London College of Fashion, and Myf Ryan, chief marketing officer at Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield.
London Fashion Fund targets “early-stage” fashion designers
Also launched is the London Fashion Fund, which offers investment to scale the businesses of London’s emerging fashion talent fromseed-fundedd by the Mayor of London. The fund is targeted at “early-stage” fashion and fashion-tech businesses, rather than start-ups, with the aim of “accelerating their growth and create a stable and prosperous business”. It will also act as an intervention fund adding value to the business through advice and access to networks.
Selected businesses will be “innovators with an environmental and social conscience and the potential to disrupt the fashion ecosystem”, added The Fashion District, and they can be from many areas of the fashion industry including, design, technology, product, service, retail, manufacturing, textiles and re-newables.
The fund is looking for these businesses to demonstrate market traction with revenues typically over 100,000 pounds per year or if pre-revenue they will have tested their market.
The initiative was kick-started by the Mayor of London’s Good Growth Fund regeneration programme, with the aim of backing the capital’s best fashion entrepreneurs, to support enterprise, create jobs and boost economic growth.
As a co-investment fund, it links public and private investors, offering convertible loans for up to one-third of their funding need, to a maximum of 30,000 pounds with the balance provided from other funding sources.
Deputy mayor for business, Rajesh Agrawal, said in a statement: “London is the world’s creative capital and I’m urging businesses to apply for the London Fashion Fund. This is a great opportunity for designers, entrepreneurs and tech talent to take the next step in developing their creative businesses here in London.”
Justine Simons, deputy mayor for culture and the creative industries, added: “London is at the heart of the global fashion industry and the Fashion District provides crucial support for the talented designers and fashion businesses in our city. The Challenge Prize and the London Fashion Fund will encourage innovation and boost new and emerging talent, creating jobs and supporting fashion tech businesses in this fast-growing industry.”
The Fashion District aims to drive economic and social transformation in east London, building on the area’s heritage of fashion and innovation, by bringing together fashion, technology, business and education to “meet, compete, collaborate and innovate – nurturing talent, generating new jobs and developing new products”.
The Fashion District is driven by a partnership convened by London College of Fashion, UAL, with the Mayor of London, London Legacy Development Corporation (LDDC), the British Fashion Council (BFC), UK Fashion and Textiles, Unibail Rodamco-Westﬁeld, Poplar HARCA, The Trampery, Fashion Enter, Here East, Newham College and the London Boroughs of Hackney, Haringey, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest.
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