GEC Call for Solutions

Transforming the
Textile Industry

Scale your startup and leverage your impact with the GEC scale-up journey

*Please note that we will select participants on a rolling basis, so we recommend not to wait until the end date to apply!

The textile industry is in need of a change!

With its current way of working, the textile industry is among the most polluting industries on the planet.​
The need for more sustainable materials

The textile industry accounts for 2-8% of world’s GHG emissions, with the greatest climate impact resulting from material production. Also, material production puts huge pressure on natural resources such as water, energy, and land. Ambitious targets to increase the share of more sustainable materials cannot be met with the current supply of fibre and material.

Hazardous and polluting wet processes

20% of industrial water pollution is caused by the textile industry. Wet processes such as dyeing, coating and finishing of textiles rely heavily on the usage of hazardous chemicals. These not only harm the environment but also endanger the human health.

Huge amounts of textile waste

In Europe, every person generates on average more than 15 kilograms of textile waste every year. Less than 1% of textiles is recycled into new fibres creating an estimated annual material loss of USD 100 million. Multi-material garments, an inadequate recycling infrastructure and insufficient data transparency hinder textile-to-textile recycling.

The solutions we seek

The GEC is seeking technology startups addressing the current sustainability challenges of the textile industry with innovative solutions in one of the following areas:
Material innovation & fibre processing innovation, e.g
  • Biobased & next-generation materials
  • Process innovation for 
    existing materials
Non-hazardous wet processes, e.g.
  • Dyeing technologies
  • Finishing technologies
  • Coating technologies
Technologies enabling a circular value chain, e.g​.
  • Sorting & pre-processing, 
    recycling technologies
  • tracing technologies
  • digital product passport

*Please note that we will select participants on a rolling basis, so we recommend not to wait until the end date to apply!

As a founder or startup team

You are driven to make a difference! Your goals: successfully scaling your technology startup for tremendous impact! You’re working hard to further develop your technology, gain traction with initial customers and convince investors of your fantastic business plan! Tasks are piling up and you may ask yourself

  • What are the relevant priorities to scale our business, team and technology?​
  • How can we secure sufficient investment to make a massive impact? 
  • How can we move from pilot projects to commercial agreements with our customers? 
  • Is our innovation sufficiently protected enough to scale up?
  • What processes do we need to establish to enable exponential growth?

The GEC scale-up journey

The GEC supports founders of sustainability technology-focused startups (sustechs) through the scale-up process. Your scale-up journey starts in the GEC Catalyst to strengthen your foundations for scaling. Startups that successfully complete the GEC Catalyst may be eligible for the GEC Scaling Factory. The Factory programme consist of individualised in-kind services to advance your startup to the next level and become the sustech you strive to be. The whole GEC scale-up journey is worth up to €200,000 (grant and convertible loan investement as in-kind services). GEC Sustainability knowledge will be trained in both programmes.

Your benefits in a nutshell​

  • Receive up to € 200,000 to power your scale-up journey (grant and convertible loan investment as in-kind services).
  • Sharpen your sustainability story to build a true responsible business.
  • Join our lifelong, collaborative community of likeminded start-up founders & innovators. 
  • Connect with industry partners, investors, scientists, and experts globally. 
  • Get access to our partner lab facilities, co-working space, and event space in Meerbusch / Düsseldorf, Germany.

Catalyst Programme

become investor-ready

A proven methodology integrating the best practices from the Silicon Valley to​ validate your business model, ​ test your assumptions​ and develop an investment strategy​.

Format: ​Cohort-based, tailored​ 10 weeks (twice-weekly online sessions plus mentorship)​ and two days kick-off in-person in Düsseldorf.

factory Programme

multiply your revenues

Investment (convertible loan) as in-kind services to cover the expenses of your specific priorities, such as: ​technology scaling (incl. access to labs)​, market & revenue development​, operational efficiency & team development​.

A grant, provided as in-kind contribution to support your scale-up journey with:​ individualised support from our venture developer in your industry​, mentorship from industry experts​, participation at events​, access to the GEC event space and co-working space.

sustainability Knowledge

build a responsible business

- Sustainability management system and roadmap​
- ESG and impact reporting for investors​
- Scaling your positive impacts​
- Avoiding negative impacts ​

Format: Cohort-based plus individualized, depending on your sustainability readiness level.

Become investor-ready and build your scaling foundation!
Scale your company and build a sustainable business!

A proven methodology integrating the best practices from the Silicon Valley to:

  • Validate your business model
  • Test your assumptions
  • Develop an investment strategy

Format: Cohort-based, tailored​ 10 weeks, twice-weekly online sessions plus mentorship and two days kick-off in-person in Düsseldorf / Meerbusch.

Investment (convertible loan) as in-kind services to cover the expenses of your specific priorities, such as: 

  • Technology scaling (incl. access to labs)
  • Market & revenue development
  • Operational efficiency & team development

A grant, provided as in-kind contributions to support your scale-up journey with:

  • Individualised support from our venture developer in your industry
  • Mentorship from industry experts
  • Participation at events
  • Access to the GEC event space and co-working space
  • Learn the basics on ESG and impact & define your impact purpose.
  • Sustainability consulting to sharpen your sustainability story, set up a sustainability management system & roadmap, ESG reporting for investors (e.g. carbon footprint analysis, certifications).

Typical enrolment criteria:

  • Team: 2-5 FTE
  • Technology readiness level: 4-5
  • Commercial stage: tested prototype, customer in discovery
  • Funding stage: pre-seed / seed

Typical enrolment criteria:

  • Team: 5-30 FTE
  • Technology readiness level: 5–9
  • Commercial stage: > 2 pilot projects
  • Funding stage: seed / series A

Application process

January 9

Submit your application and pitch deck before January 29!

January 29

Your application will be reviewed and assessed by our investment committee.

February - March

If we see a potential fit, you will be invited to pitch your company in front of the investment committee. For our part, we will introduce the GEC Scale-up Journey in more detail and answer any questions you may have.

February - March

We will consult on your application with a sector specific GEC expert committee (all under NDA).


If we believe it’s a match, you will be invited to take part in the GEC scale-up journey!

What other startups say​

Ready to scale for impact?

Become part of our evolving ecosystem for sustech startups and gain access to our services and sector specific expertise to scale your impact.  

Please note that we will select participants on a rolling basis, so we recommend not waiting until the end date to apply!

We didn’t answer all of your questions?

If you have any questions, please reach out to

Anna Demes
Venture Developer Sustainable Textiles

Application disclaimer

You qualify for the GEC programmes, if you have at least developed a first product or service (TRL 4-5 for GEC Catalyst), secured first (pre-)seed funding and your sustainable deep-tech solution and business model pass our sustainability assessment during the selection process. In 2023, there will be three openings for your applications. So if you’re not ready yet to apply now, please do so in May or October.

Note about the confidentiality of information that you submit: the Global Entrepreneurship Centre will treat your information with care for its own evaluation purposes. At this stage of the submission, no formal non-disclosure agreement (NDA) can be granted. Please therefore only share information that does not require any such NDA. In the further assessment phase, more detailed information may well be necessary to grant the award. Such information can then be subject to a specific contract. The GEC programmes are subject to EU de minimis regulation and German state aid.