Two Vienna-based entrepreneurs Bettina Steinbrugger and Annemarie Harant and founders of Erdbeerwoche (Strawberry Week) have won the Organic Cotton Round Table (OCRT) Innovation Award. Their initiative aims to leverage the power of female consumers to make feminine hygiene products healthier and sustainable, using only organic cotton.
The annual Textile Exchange Organic Cotton Round Table Innovation Award in collaboration with Change Agency was held this year in Hamburg, Germany. The awards attracted entrepreneurs with new ideas from all segments of the industry, ranging from a foundation to support organic cotton production to innovative crop combinations, a new traceability system, to an app for farmers, and streamlining the way organic premiums reach farmers.
A panel of judges headed by Helen Crowley, Head of Sustainable Sourcing Innovation at Kering, heard six finalists give their innovation pitches. The runner-up prize went to SmartFarming Cotton app and the first prize of $3000 to Erdbeerwoche.
Erdbeerwoche aims to raise awareness to encourage women to use their purchasing power to make feminine hygiene more sustainable. So far, more than 1 million conventional hygiene products have been replaced by organic cotton alternatives. Post winning the award, Bettina and Annemarie welcomed their award and said that winning the Innovation Award meant a lot to them as it is an important recognition for their work in breaking the taboo of menstruation and educating women about organic and sustainable feminine hygiene. They said that they were convinced that with the support of the OCRT community we can give Strawberry Week another significant boost and reach even more women globally.
The runner-up SmartFarming delivers a smartphone application for organic farmers with real-time, locally specific data and advice on inputs and farming practices. The app comes with a ‘management dashboard’ for cotton companies with field activities. The Organic Cotton Round Table, now in its fifth year, acts as the platform for collective action and incubator for great ideas in the organic cotton community. This year over 200 attendees joined the OCRT in Hamburg. Next year, the OCRT would take place in the USA in Washington, DC, during the week of October 9.