Innovation Challenge

Innovation Challenge

Calls for Sustainable Chemistry Innovations

The annual ISC3 Innovation Challenge is thematically oriented along a once-per-year selected focus topic. Start-ups globally are invited to contend for a total of 25,000 EUR in prize money with their innovative ideas that are revolving around the ongoing year’s focus topic.
They are assessed by a jury of international experts who score the Start-ups and choose the finalists. The finalists’ pitches and the award ceremony take place in autumn/winter.

The winners are awarded money prizes in three categories:

  • Best Social Impact for Start-ups that have a noteworthy impact on their community.
  • Best Regional Impact for Start-ups with an innovative solution to solving an issue that is particularly relevant to their region.
  • The overall Winner of our Innovation Challenge.

All the finalists receive a customized support of the ISC3 Global Start-up Service in form of pitch trainings and have the possibility to be featured as Start-up of the Month.

Find the press release here.

ISC3 Innovation Challenge 2024 - Sustainable Chemistry and Textiles

Application process now officially closed

In the second round of applications closed on 30th April. Currently, our jury is in the process of evaluating 43 amazing start-up innovations in sustainable chemistry for thetextiles sector. The finalists will be announced presumably end of June 2024.
Stay tuned for more updates!

First stage application round closed

The first application stage closed on March 1st 2024, new registrations are not possible anymore.
We are happy to announce that around 50 start-ups from Europe, Asia, Africa and North and South America passed the first round of the application process. We are looking forward to learn more about their innovative ideas and solutions in the field of Sustainable Chemistry and Textiles!
The second stage application deadline is April 30th, 2024; 23:59 a.m. CEST.

The ISC3 Innovation Challenge 2024 has the topic "Sustainable Chemistry and Textiles" !

The fifth Innovation Challenge addresses innovators developing solutions in the field of Sustainable Chemistry and Textiles with the following subtopics:

    Environmentally benign production:
  • Substitution of harmful chemicals in textile and leather manufacturing*
  • Alternative processes; e.g. use of enzymes for leather tanning
  • Chemical recovery and reuse of solvents, sulphur compounds, additives etc. during the production process of fibres and fabrics
  • Wastewater and sludge minimization and treatment contributing to Zero Liquid Discharge
  • * Please refer to the ZDHC Manufacturing Restricted Substances List (ZDHC MRSL)

    Alternative materials and feedstock:

  • Use of alternative fibre feedstock, e.g. pre- and post-consumer fibre waste and agricultural waste and recycled textile waste in textile production
  • Alternative materials, e.g. natural alternatives to synthetic fabrics or vegan leather alternatives
  • Waste minimization and recycling:

  • Material-efficient manufacturing of fabrics and garments
  • Mechanical recycling of textile fibres and fabrics
  • Chemical recycling technologies for textile waste
  • Innovations reducing microplastic generated during use and laundry of synthetic textiles
  • Alternative business models:

  • Social entrepreneurship changing the textile supply chain and contributing to local/regional employment
  • Chemical Leasing concepts for textile chemicals, dyes etc.

Submission of proposals

The submission of proposals will follow a 2-stage procedure. First stage submissions include an online template which asks for a brief description of the innovation, the business perspectives and the innovators team. Eligible submissions will be invited to the second stage, in which more detailed information must be provided.

Eligible participants

Eligible are all innovators and entrepreneurs, i.e., persons owning or representing the proposed innovation, employed by organisations including research institutes, start-ups, small-medium sized enterprises, or comparable institutions active in the development and realisation of sustainable chemistry solutions. Enterprises participating in the challenge shall have a staff headcount not exceeding 50 (full time equivalent) and an annual turnover of max. 10 million Euro. Enterprises majority-owned by large enterprises are not eligible for the award, except for innovations leading to the creation of independent spin-offs.Proposals submitted by innovators and entrepreneurs from developing countries and tackling challenges in developing countries are considered as particularly important. Female entrepreneurs are specifically encouraged to submit a proposal.


The proposals will be assessed against the three main criteria:

  • Innovation level. Is the innovation unique, distinct, and truly original?
  • Business viability. What is the market potential of the innovation?
  • Is the idea commercially feasible?
  • Sustainability. What is the sustainability impact of the innovation?

What to expect?

Five finalists will receive:

  • Tailored support: access to Global Start-up Service Customised Support
  • Visibility: promotion of your innovation via ISC3 communication channels
  • Cash prizes: the overall Innovation Challenge Winner will receive a cash prize of 15,000 EUR.
  • The two separate categories “Best Social Impact” and “Best Regional Impact" OR two winners of "Special Impact" are endowed with cash prizes amounting to 5,000 EUR each.


Launch of the new 2024 Innovation Challenge: November 1st, 2023
Deadline for first stage submission: March 1st, 2024, 23:59:59 CEST
Deadline for second stage submission: April 30th, 2024, 23:59:59 CEST
Jury Evaluation: May 6st – June 16th, 2024
Finalist announcements: after June 25th, 2024
Finalist pitch training: between July –September 2024
Innovation Challenge Award Ceremony: scheduled for autumn/winter 2024, date and location of the venue will be announced via