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Nike, NASA and more work to uncover innovations in sustainable materials

Nike, NASA and more work to uncover innovations in sustainable materials
Nike vp sustainable business and innovation Hannah Jones on stage at LAUNCH Summit in April 2013. (Photo: Business Wire)

LAUNCH 2020 Summit 2013

LAUNCH members NIKE Inc., NASA, the U.S. Agency for Intl. Development and the U.S. Department of State convened 150 materials specialists, designers, academics, manufacturers, entrepreneurs and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) the week of April 22, 2013, to catalyze action around one of the world's biggest challenges—the sustainability of materials and how they are made.


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 at the event. "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 2013,  the 10 strongest innovations will be selected and participants will take part in an immersive program to provide 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 says, "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 Ron Garan's innovation on 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 1 million filters that provide clean water to 4.5 million people in Kenya.


For details on the LAUNCH Challenge for 2013 and to apply online, register at



Founded in 2010 as a strategic collaboration between NASA, Nike, the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for Intl. Development (USAID), LAUNCH identifies and supports visionaries whose ideas, technologies or programs have the potential to create a better world. Through a series of meetings, events and an annual forum, LAUNCH has successfully introduced innovations that are solving urgent challenges facing our society.


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. 


Source: Nike Inc.



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