LAUNCH — the strategic collaboration between NASA, NIKE, Inc., the US Department of State and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) — announced Friday it has added the expertise of a host of Scandinavian innovators in its continued search for sustainable materials. LAUNCH teamed up with Nordic-based companies IKEA, Novozymes, Kvadrat, Arla and a number of government institutions to announce LAUNCH Nordic, an initial step in taking the LAUNCH process to innovators around the world.
LAUNCH Nordic adds a new dimension to the established LAUNCH process, which draws upon its members’ collective intelligence to address some of the world’s greatest challenges, by focusing on a specific region to harness the unique strengths of local innovators and companies. In support of the global LAUNCH initiative, LAUNCH Nordic will also focus the challenge on sustainable materials and how they are made.
“The LAUNCH approach has been successful in identifying and supporting powerful innovations,” said Hannah Jones, Nike's VP of Sustainable Business and Innovation. “By bringing LAUNCH to the Nordic region, which is a hub for sustainability and design, we believe we can unlock new ideas and technologies that will revolutionize sustainable materials and manufacturing systems.”
LAUNCH Nordic kicked off March 14 at a summit in Copenhagen that brought together 120 global industry stakeholders, materials specialists, designers, researchers, innovators and policy makers.
During the summit, the LAUNCH Nordic Challenge 2014 was opened to individuals and teams, start-ups and established companies. The Challenge seeks breakthroughs that will transform the system of textiles, fabrics and fibers into one with a minimal environmental impact and/or that drives social equality. Specifically, LAUNCH Nordic 2014 is focusing on innovations within the areas of:
- Closed Loop Solutions & Design for Disassembly
- Cleaner manufacturing & chemistry
- Sustainable Investments & Procurement
- End-user Engagement
The initiative is seeking game-changing, scalable, early-stage technologies and prototypes. Innovations can be business models, financial instruments, technologies and programs that accelerate research, education and capacity building. The application deadline is June 1, and in August, the strongest innovations will be selected and participants will take part in an immersive program that provides access to capital, creativity and capacity building.
"At IKEA, we know first-hand how important collaboration can be in bringing new innovations and technologies to scale,” said Håkan Nordkvist, Head of Sustainability Innovation at IKEA. “Together with our partners from LAUNCH and LAUNCH Nordic, we can participate in the identification and development of transformational innovations that can help solve global sustainability challenges.”
LAUNCH Nordic follows the LAUNCH 2020 Challenge, which last year convened global thought leaders at NIKE, Inc. headquarters in Portland, Ore., to catalyze action around one of the world’s biggest challenges — the sustainability of materials and how they are made. LAUNCH will remain focused on the materials challenge for the next six years in order to drive systemic change.
It’s been a busy year so far for IKEA — in February, it launched its “Wonderful Everyday” campaign, aimed at explaining the brand’s values and sustainability ethos to consumers — beginning with the importance of switching to LED bulbs. The bulbs also play a role in the two-month campaign the IKEA Foundation launched later that week to raise funds to provide solar-powered lighting and other renewable energy technologies to UN refugee camps run through the sale of light bulbs in its stores around the world. The company’s positive momentum hit a snag when the FSC suspended the certification of its subsidiary Swedwood, which was suspected of cutting old-growth forest in Karelia, Russia, but the certification was reinstated last week after an appeals committee investigation.
In July, Denmark-based Novozymes, one of the world’s largest producers of microorganisms, bio-pharmaceutical ingredients and industrial enzymes, released new enzymes that boost ethanol and oil production from corn while saving biofuel plants energy and money.