In Meerbusch, North Rhine-Westphalia, the first ever GEC Textile Awards, endowed with prizes collectively totaling 350,000 euros, have been conferred upon the winning applicants. This recognition, offered by the Global Entrepreurship Centre (GEC), was awarded by the state Minister of Finance Lutz Lienenkämper and the GEC’s own CEO Friedrich Barth. Behind MycoTEX, founded in the Netherlands, and Resortecs, founded in Belgium, a start-up co-founded by WHU alumnus Lukas Pünder (BSc 2014; MSc 2017) also made it to the podium. His Düsseldorf-based company Retraced placed third. Using blockchain technology, Retraced helps fashion and textile companies trace products and fabrics back to the manufacturer and, in the process, is making a clear statement about the sustainability of production. Three other members of the WHU community also work for Retraced: Tai Ford (MBA 2018), Mengqi Quian (MBA program enrollee), and Dr. Monika Hauck, who serves on the company’s advisory board.
The GEC Textile Awards are given to start-up companies that develop materials, products, processes, logistics concepts, or business models that make the fashion and textile industries more sustainable. “At the Global Entrepreneurship Centre, we invest in and support transformative ‘Sus-Tech’ start-ups from all over the globe,” says Christina Gudat, Global Ecosystem Manager at GEC and alumni of the WHU (MSc Enterpreneurship 2020). “I’m excited to see how the recipients of the GEC Textile Awards will reveal their full potential over the coming months.” The individual support packages for the recipients (1st place: 200,000 euros; 2nd place: 100,000 euros; and 3rd place: 50,000 euros) will be used to fund their operations for up to 15 months and give them a solid foundation. This phase is intended to allow the start-ups to professionalize their business, build a low-risk investment profile, and set themselves on the course for economically substainable success.
A total of 141 start-ups from all over the world applied for the GEC Textile Awards; 16 were placed on the shortlist. Five other companies were awarded the GEC Textile Future Innovation Champion Award, which also gives these young entrepreneurs a chance to participate in a ten-week program starting in April designed to help them validate their business model and lay the foundation for commercial success.