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Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)

Sustainability innovation f


Virtual Accelerator programme to empower designers to transform the fashion status quo, through the integration of sustainable practices into their daily operations and value chain.


Five-week online Accelerator programme, 2-4 hours per week. Total hours: 15 + 2 additional hours for 121 mentoring and 2 optional virtual networking events.

Applications for this programme are now closed. If you are interested in discussing future opportunities on this topic please get in touch.



About the programme

The fast fashion industry has far reaching impacts on both people and the planet. It accounts for ten per cent of global greenhouse gas 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 needed to revolutionise the fashion industry as we know it. Garment production is one of the world’s largest and most labour-intensive industries with estimates of 75 million people worldwide and mostly women. Crucially, the supply chain funnels more money toward modern slavery than any other industry besides tech.

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

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. 


Join this programme, designed for innovators in sustainable fashion, and you will:

  • Explore the social and environmental challenges facing the fashion industry
  • Gain insights from leading innovators and experts driving change in the fashion industry
  • Learn about sustainable sourcing and connect with ethical manufacturers
  • Develop your pitch, with insight on business planning and marketing
  • Learn how to tell your sustainability story and use it to reach your audience
  • Build your network with other innovators in sustainable fashion


Programme overview:

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 Labsthe 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.

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. 



Yuly Fuentes MedelYuly Fuentes-Medel

Project Manager for Fiber Technologies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Founder of Value of Science LLC 


Michael Stanley JonesMichael Stanley-Jones

Programme Management Officer for the Ecosystems Integration Branch of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Former UN Environment Secretariat of the UN Alliance for Sustainable Fashion

Cath TayleurCath Tayleur 

Senior Programme Manager of Business and Nature, CISL


Shaunie BrettShaunie Brett

Sustainability Consultant, Sussed Consulting

Sean AnsettSean Ansett

Founder and President, At Stake Advisors


Bohao LiBohao Li

Senior Partner for the Luxury Brand Research Center, Shanghai Jiaotong University, Former Consultant for Creative Economy Program and Curator for International Fashion Showcase by British Council and British Fashion Council

Lara Pizzato

Lara Pizzato

FashionTech and Sustainability Consultant, Founder of Fueled


SI4FD Contributor   Ishwari ThopteIshwari Thopte

Business coach, advisor and tutor, London College of Fashion

SI4FD Contributor   Yu XiongYu Xiong

Investor, UK Sustainable Fashion Investment Limited


SI4FD Contributor   Marina AtarovaMarina Atarova

Founder, #FASHHACK

SI4FD Contributor   Malin PosernMalin Posern

Partner, Passion Capital


SI4FD Contributor   Samata PattinsonSamata Pattinson

CEO, Red Carpet Green Dress

SI4FD   Hannah WilliamsonHannah Williamson

Associate, Investment Team, Edge




Innovation showroom contributors:

  • Yudi Ding, Founder, Hide Biotech
  • Jim Ajioka, Chief Scientific Officer, Colorifix
  • Tom Wilton, COO and Carla Lin, Growth Executive, Oxwash
  • Ryan Mario Yasin, Founder, Petit Pli
  • Charlotte Bullock, Business Development Director, Terra Neutra
  • Frankie Phillips, Founder and Director, TOBEFRANK


Who should apply

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.


Applications for this programme are now closed. If you are interested in discussing future opportunities on this topic please get in touch.