Sustainability partners Nike, NASA, State Department and USAID gather

Sustainability partners Nike, NASA, State Department and USAID gather

April 26–Correction appended

Nike on Tuesday and Wednesday took another step in the strategic collaboration it joined in 2010 with NASA, the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development. The four partners formed their coalition to seek sustainable living practices. They’ve called their endeavor LAUNCH.

At the World Headquarters campus, 150 materials specialists, designers, academics, manufacturers, entrepreneurs and non-government organizations met to discuss the sustainability of materials and how they are made.

From a Nike news release on the summit:

NIKE, Inc. President CEO Mark Parker kicked off the two-day LAUNCH 2020 Summit stressing the importance of innovation and collaboration.

“Innovation is most powerful when it’s activated by collaboration between unlikely partners, coupled with investment dollars, marketing know-how and determination,” Parker said. “Now is the time for big, bold solutions. Incremental change won’t get us where we need to go fast enough or at a scale that makes a difference.”

Through a unique, multi-year incubation process, LAUNCH will uncover innovations in sustainable materials that can have a major impact on people and the planet.

The summit also unveiled the LAUNCH 2013 Challenge Statement, an open call for innovation to transform the system of producing fabrics. LAUNCH 2013 is open to individuals and teams. In August the 10 strongest innovations will be selected and participants will take part in an immersive program that provides access to capital, creativity and capacity.

Materials have a significant impact on the planet. It is estimated that around 150 billion garments were produced around the world in 2010, and by 2015, the global apparel industry is expected to produce more than 400 billion square meters of fabric every year — enough to cover the state of California.

Nike VP of Sustainable Business and Innovation, Hannah Jones said: “About 60 percent of the environmental footprint of a pair of Nike shoes is embedded in the materials used to make them. When you multiply that across our business, and across the industry, it’s clear that innovation in sustainable materials is a huge opportunity, not just for Nike, but for the world.”

Also speaking at the LAUNCH 2020 Summit was Joan Benoit Samuelson, the first woman to win an Olympic gold medal in the Women’s Marathon in 1984, and Ron Garan, astronaut and LAUNCH innovator. They both shared their passion for the environment and their unique view on the need for collaboration to achieve seemingly impossible goals.

Three years ago LAUNCH selected and helped accelerate Garan’s innovation for clean water. Independent of his work with NASA, Garan developed a concept to deliver clean water, energy and sanitation to poor communities through the combination of sustainable development and carbon credits. As part of the LAUNCH process, Garan was exposed to experts with the investment dollars and business acumen to bring the innovation to life. The Carbon for Water project has now successfully distributed one million filters that provide clean water to 4.5 million people in Kenya.

Please register online to learn more about the LAUNCH Challenge for 2013 and to submit an application.

Successful innovations from previous LAUNCH challenges include:

–Carbon For Water: delivering the technology to provide access to clean water to 4.5 million people in Kenya.

–Gram Power: providing thousands of people in India with affordable, renewable energy.

–Bioneedle: a biodegradable, implantable needle that delivers vaccines and dissolves in the body, allowing for mass distribution and minimal waste.

Correction: A previous version of this story said the event started Thursday. It was held Tuesday and Wednesday.