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Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)

Sustainable Fashion


Virtual Accelerator programme to fast track tech innovation for a sustainable fashion industry.


Six-week virtual Accelerator programme, 2 – 3 hours per week.

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.

From fibre modification, to circular design principles and supply chain transparency, the CISL Accelerator is looking for early stage start-ups and entrepreneurs with tech-driven innovations that have the potential to transform the sustainability of the fashion industry.

This free Accelerator programme will bring together a select cohort of innovators to help fast track their sustainability solutions. Delivered over six 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
  • Learn from leading innovators driving change in the fashion industry
  • Build your pitch, with insight on business planning, marketing and storytelling
  • Hear from investors on the do’s and don’ts for accessing start-up funding
  • Build your network with other innovators in sustainable fashion


Programme overview:

Week one: Introduction and challenges - meet the cohort and explore the biggest challenges facing the fashion industry in its bid to be more sustainable

Week two: What does good look like - Understand the changes needed to revolutionise the fashion industry and learn about the tech innovations that are pioneering change.

Weeks three-four: Business labs – learn about start-up essentials of business planning, marketing, storytelling and pitching readiness.

Week five: Global market trends and lessons learnt from systems thinking – Explore the various challenges in different markets and learn how to apply systems thinking to ensure a resilient business model

Week six: Pitch practice – receive peer to peer, investor, and industry expert feedback on your innovation



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

Matthew DrinkwaterMatthew Drinkwater

Head of Fashion Innovation Agency, London College of Fashion, UAL


Atul BagaiAtul Bagai 

Head of Country Office, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

Ishwari ThopteIshwari Thopte

Business coach, advisor & tutor at LCF, former program manager at Centre for Fashion


Wendy YuWendy Yu

Founder and CEO of Yu Holdings 

Sean AnsettSean Ansett

Founder and President, At Stake Advisors


Shaunie BrettShaunie Brett

Sustainability Consultant, Sussed Consulting

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


Viola JardonViola Jardon 

Accelerator Programme Manager, CISL

Beata BienkowskaBeata Bienkowska

Programme Manager, CISL


Emma FrombergEmma Fromberg

Programme Manager, Graduate Programmes, CISL

Marina AtarovaMarina Atarova

 Founder of #FASHHACK



Yu XiongYu Xiong 

Fellow of CISL, Associate Dean International of University of Surrey

I4C + I4SF Contributor   Katie AtkinsonKatie Atkinson

CEO, The Runway Media


I4SF Contributor   Gabbi CahaneGabbi Cahane

Founder, Multiple London

I4SF Contributor   Irene Maffini

Irene Maffini

Accelerator Portfolio Director, Sustainable Ventures


I4SF Contributor   Karan Daryanani

Karan Daryanani

Programme Manager, South Asia, Fashion for Good


Innovation showroom contributors:

  • Jessi Baker, Founder and CEO of Provenance 
  • Yudi Ding, Founder, Hide Biotech
  • Ayca Field, Co-Founder, SoluBlue
  • Jim Ajioka, Chief Scientific Officer, Colorifix
  • Hasna Kourda, Co-Founder, Save your wardrobe
  • Sacha Newell, Founder & CEO, My Wardrobe HQ


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 early stage start-ups and entrepreneurs with innovations in sustainable fashion, particularly in the areas of:

  • Material innovation and biotech – such as fibre innovation, enzymology and molecular biology
  • Manufacturing and processing - supply chain transparency, blockchain technology, water and chemical use, waste reduction and energy efficiency
  • Packaging and delivery - innovation in packaging materials, shipping and logistics, and waste reduction
  • People centred solutions –improve health and safety for people in the garment production, consumer education on sustainable consumption, and post-consumer solutions

Applicants must be based in England, and be available to attend the full six week virtual programme. The online sessions will be delivered every Wednesday from 9 September – 14 October, between 10:00 – 13:00 (only one exception: 14:00-16:00 on 23 September due to a speaker’s time zone), with a time commitment of between 2-3 hours per week.


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