Innovator: Bettina Steinbrugger & Annemarie Harant

Organization: erdbeerwoche (Strawberry Week)

Country: Austria

“erdbeerwoche” is an awareness raising platform as well as an innovative onlineshop for sustainable feminine hygiene and organic-fair trade underwear, which aims to bring the feminine hygiene sector into the sustainability debate.



Bettina & Annemarie’s Winning Pitch

Innovator: Sven Drillenburg Lelijveld

Organization: SmartFarming

Country: Netherlands/ India

A smartphone application for organic farmers with real-time, locally specific data and advice on inputs and farming practices, along with a ‘management dashboard’ for cotton companies.



Sven’s Innovation Pitch

Innovator: Sreeranga Rajan & Ralf Hellmann

Organization: Dibella

Country: India/ Germany

Project: The Good Textile Foundation (GTF) will create difference funds to improve transparency and support infrastructure development in organic cotton farming communities.



Sreeranga’s Innovation Pitch

Innovator: David Bellard & Veronica Yow

Organization: Rare

Country: U.S./ China

Project: Rare proposes to create a market initiative that is built on 3 pillars: Rare’s community engagement methodology; a seed-to-store traceability platform; and a marketing campaign.


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David & Veronica’s Innovation Pitch

Innovator: Avinash Karmarkar

Organization: Pratibha Syntex

Country: India

Project: Vasudha Model Organic Farms (VMOF) envisions sustainable availability of raw material for industry by increasing “Economic Yield Per Acre” without disturbing ecological balance. Each VMOF will become a self-sustained independent unit.


Avinash’s Innovation Pitch

Innovator: Gijs Spoor

Organization: Seed to Self

Country: India

Project: Leveling up the playing field – reducing the cost of more sustainable products for consumers, while increasing rewards to producers, by calculating and managing premiums as a value chain rather than as individual firms.



Gijs’s Innovation Pitch

A big thank you to our panel of esteemed judges for selecting the winner and runner-up for The Innovation Lab Award 2016.

(Left to right: Ben Ramsden, Rachel Cantu, Andrea Bischof, Dr. Helen Crowley, Ali Polat and Jimmy Wedel. Photo Credit: Rajeev Verma, CottonConnect)

Dr. Helen Crowley (chair) – Head of Sustainable Sourcing Innovation, Kering, France
Andrea Bischof – Senior Advisor Sustainable Agriculture/ Organic Farming, HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation
Rachel Cantu – VP Global Supply Chain, Patagonia, USA
Ali Polat – Owner, Orimpex Organic Textiles, Turkey/ Netherlands
Ben Ramsden – Global Resonance, UK
Jimmy Wedel – President, Texas Organic Cotton Marketing Cooperative, USA

What Is The Innovation Lab?

The Innovation Lab is a celebration of new ideas in organic cotton. It aims to seek out groups or individuals with innovative solutions to break through barriers to growth and address issues in the organic cotton supply chain.

Shortlisted applicants pitch their ideas and the winning proposal, as decided by our judging panel (or “Dragons” for anyone familiar with the TV show “Dragons Den”!), receives the OCRT Innovation Award along with a cash prize to put towards their project or donate to a favorite cause. All Finalists are invited to become Innovation Lab Alumni, with information and updates on their projects showcased on the Alumni webpage.

Innovation Lab Alumni

 Innovation Lab 2017 | Washington D.C

Do you have a new idea that could revolutionize the textile industry? Transform lives for farmers? Bring new understanding to consumers? Then the Organic Cotton Round Table’s new Innovation Awards are looking for you!

At the next OCRT in Washington DC in October 2017, shortlisted innovators from around the world will have 3 minutes to pitch their idea (either in-person or via video link) to a panel of distinguished judges in a bid to win the 2017 Innovation Award – including a cash prize and priceless publicity.

The application process for 2017 will open soon. All you will need to do at this stage is summarize your idea in 250 words and send to

There’s no fee to enter, and our criteria are wide and welcoming. We’re looking for the best new ideas and innovations of 2017, so whether you are already in pilot stage or simply planning on paper, we want to hear from you.

All shortlisted finalists will join the OCRT Innovation Award Alumni; an exciting group of innovative thinkers from around the world. This group will grow over the years and can support each other in bringing new solutions to the industry.

New ideas are the lifeblood of any sector and we aim to celebrate and support innovations in organic cotton!

What Others Say

“Winning the Innovation Lab means a lot to us as it is an important recognition for our work in breaking the taboo of menstruation and educating women about organic and sustainable feminine hygiene. We are convinced that with the support of the OCRT community we can give strawberry week another significant boost and reach even more women globally. Our plan is to strengthen existing relationships as well as to find new partners in order to collectively address the topic of menstrual health management because we believe it is time for a new generation of feminine hygiene!”

– Bettina Steinbrugger, Erdbeerwoche (2016 winner)

“In the next five years, Pratibha plans to connect 300 villages to create an awakened ‘scientist’ in each farmer. Through participatory methods, the program aims to encourage solutions that are generated from within the community. Skill development projects in organic cotton farming are also on the anvil. This will result in continuous improvements in agriculture, rapid adoption of sustainable means and holistic growth of the community.”

– Shreyaskar Chaudhary, Pratibha Syntex (2015 winner)

“The Innovation lab is a fantastic initiative to foster innovation and entrepreneurship in sustainable textiles and we are proud to have participated and won second prize. There is never a better time for this initiative than now as there is real momentum across various stakeholders who are finding creative ways of reducing the negative impact on natural resources. It’s great that the Innovation lab brings them together and provides a platform to share and promote the idea with like- minded businesses. It incentivizes innovators who, otherwise, are often left on their own.”

– Sreeranga Rajan, Dibella (2015 runner-up)