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Contest offering $650K to knock out microfiber pollution

Washington – Conservation X Labs and a global coalition of partners have launched an innovation competition with $650,000 in cash prizes dedicated to solving plastic microfiber pollution.

The Microfiber Innovation Challenge is “an all-out recruitment effort to entice the brightest minds to tackle the microfiber pollution problem and come up with upstream innovative sustainable solutions in textile production and manufacturing,” according to the company, which spurs solutions to the extinction crisis.

“By harnessing planetary genius, we can allow conservation to operate at the pace and on the scale necessary to keep up with, and even get ahead of, the planet’s toughest environmental challenges,” said Alex Dehgan, co-founder of Conservation X Labs.

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“To achieve the goal of ending the Sixth Mass Extinction, and really to protect biodiversity and nature writ large, we need all hands on deck,” added Paul Bunje, co-founder of Conservation X Labs.

Entrants will have until June 25, 2021 to submit applications for innovations that replace plastic-derived textiles with non-toxic, biodegradable alternatives and/or develop improved textile manufacturing processes to decrease microfiber shedding. Finalists will receive the support of an industry advisory panel to guide the final presentations.

The challenge is powered by the Flotilla Foundation and The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations and supported by a global alliance of partners working on the frontlines of the problem including The Biomimicry Institute, Bolt Threads, Canopy, Fashion For Good, Finisterre, Greenport Harbor Brewing Company, Material Innovation Initiative, The Microfibre Consortium, The Ocean Foundation, Oceanic Global, Ocean Wise, Plastic Soup Foundation, Queen of Raw, Think Beyond Plastic Foundation, and Under Armour.

“We’re looking for the next idea to stop Microfiber pollution and make the world better,” said Lorin Harward, senior lead of open innovation at Under Armour.

In addition to cash prizes, winners will have access to Under Armour’s innovation team, which will help develop, test and refine the winning ideas, and will receive UA gear and their own custom-designed shoes. Greenport Harbor Brewing Company will also name a new beer after the winner.

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