How The Fashion and Textile Industry Is Embracing Technology, With Alex Chan Of The Mills Fabrica

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This is the 16th episode of the podcast Deep Tech: From Lab to Market where Founders and Investors share how ‘deep tech’ innovation can go from lab to market. It is available on Apple Podcast and other platforms,

It is hosted by Benjamin Joffe, Partner at SOSV, a global early stage fund focused on deep tech. SOSV runs multiple accelerator programs including HAX (intelligent hardware) and IndieBio (life sciences). To hear about new episodes, sign up to the newsletter or follow us on twitter at @LabToMarket.

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The fashion and textile industry is at a turning point

  • First, it is one of the most polluting due to its use of chemicals (polyester, dyes, etc.), large amounts of water, long-distance logistics, and waste (defective products and unsold inventory that ends up burnt or in landfills.

  • The Covid-19 pandemic put pressure on both retail and supply chains.

In this episode, we talk with Alex Chan, Co-Director of The Mills Fabrica about the industry’s growing appetite for innovation.

Key topics

In this conversation, we talk about:

  • The growing interest of the fashion and textile industry for deep tech to improve productivity, reduce its environmental impact, and build more resilient supply chains.

  • Examples of solutions for digital fabrication, on-demand and local production (including 3D printing).

  • New and sustainable biomaterials,

  • Technologies for defect prevention or waste recycling.

  • Finally, we discuss strategies and resources for startups to successfully engage with the apparel industry.

Ask questions to Alex here

About The Mills Fabrica

  • The Mills Fabrica is a Hong Kong-based global investment fund and industry platform focused on fashion and lifestyle.

  • It invested in over a dozen startups related to ‘TechStyle’ — combining technology and lifestyle.

  • It also published two excellent and free reports on ‘Techstyle Innovations’ and ‘Covid-19: Reconstructing the Apparel Value Chain’.

  • The Mills Fabrica was founded as part of the Nan Fung Group, a large Hong Kong-based conglomerate that started in the textile industry in the 50’s, and is now spanning property development and management, shipping, and more.

Disclosure: The Mills Fabrica is an LP in SOSV IV.

For other episodes covering ‘old school industries’, listen to our podcasts with Robert Gallenberger (btov Partners) and Kelly Chen (DCVC).

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Disclosure: SOSV, TheMills and Nan Fung portfolio companies are marked.

  • Algalife: Textile pigments and fibers from algae — TheMills

  • AlgniKnit: algae-derived, biodegradable yarns and textiles — SOSV

  • Bolt Threads: Sustainable Fashion Biomaterials and Fabrics — Nan Fung

  • Evrnu: Novel engineered fiber made from discarded clothing — TheMills

  • Huue (fka Tinctorium): Sustainable, petroleum-free indigo dyes — SOSV, TheMills

  • Kniterate: digital desktop knitting machine — SOSV

  • Mango Materials: Biopolymers from methane — TheMills

  • MycoWorks: Mushroom-based leather — SOSV

  • Presso: Dry-cleaning and disinfection robot — SOSV

  • Renewcell: Technology for fabric recycling — TheMills

  • SmarTex: Real-time defect detection for textile production — SOSV

  • Unspun: On-demand, custom jeans from 3D body scans — SOSV, TheMills

Other References

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15. The State Of Robotics — Fady Saad (MassRobotics)
14. How Khosla Ventures Invests In Deep Tech — Kanu Gulati and Rajesh Swaminathan
13. Australia’s Deep Tech Ambitions — Phil Morle (Main Sequence Ventures)
12. Funding Science Fiction That Works — Habib Haddad and Calvin Chin (E14 Fund of MIT Media Lab)
11. How to Select Industrial Partners — Robert Gallenberger (btov Partners)
10. Science Entrepreneurship — Xavier Duportet (Eligo Bioscience & Hello Tomorrow)

And 10 others!

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