Iris Redinger received a major prize from Mitacs for her disruptive process of producing all-natural dyes for the textile industry. Mitacs is a national innovation organization that supports growth by solving commercial difficulties with research solutions from academic institutions. Redinger is on a quest to lessen the fashion industry's environmental effect.
Redinger, a Mitacs intern who earned her bachelor of architecture at Waterloo University last year, will be honored with the Mitacs Environmental Entrepreneur Award on June 2 in Montreal for her efforts to advance the first-of-its-kind bio-color platform through her start-up company, Waterloo-based Material Futures.
Redinger learned to sew at a young age and had the opportunity to work with Dutch fashion designer Iris van Herpen on the renowned dome dress, which was shown at Paris Fashion Week in 2017 and is now part of the Royal Ontario Museum's collection, as a co-op student during her first year of architecture.
Redinger added that one of the largest environmental concerns in the fashion sector is dyeing textiles. They used to color fabrics using plants, but now they utilize chemical procedures generated from hazardous petroleum fuels. With recent advances in synthetic biology, this is an excellent moment to turn to nature for color.
Redinger launched Material Futures in 2018 to explore her idea, and she hired experts to assist her to improve her patent-pending process. She uses genetic engineering approaches to make microorganisms that naturally create color their primary purpose after identifying them. According to a press release from the business, the final products are entirely biodegradable colorants that can be simply swapped into existing production processes.
Redinger explained that many nations that dye textiles don't do a good job of managing their wastewater, which is problematic since people drink, bathe, and swim in this water. One alternative is to produce dyestuffs that do not require the use of water in the coloring process, but this will necessitate the purchase of expensive new equipment, factories, and infrastructure. They're aiming to build a more ecologically conscious and sustainable fashion world by using green chemistry and natural components.
Redinger's current emphasis is on scaling up her approach, which has been tested in the lab. The technique has undergone extensive performance and feasibility testing to verify that the naturally-dyed textiles can withstand multiple washings without fading and fulfill other industry-standard fabric requirements.
Redinger is one of five Mitacs Entrepreneur Award recipients, who have been recognized for their efforts to transform their research into creative enterprises that have a positive influence on Canadians' lives.
Redinger stated that Mitacs allowed her to explore her company concept at an early level, which has served as a great springboard for the next stage of pre-commercialization of the technology.
Mitacs CEO John Hepburn, who added that 20% of Mitacs interns successfully turn their innovations into startups, said that Mitacs is committed to assisting up-and-coming innovators on their entrepreneurial journey, and they're extremely proud of each of this year's award winners' remarkable accomplishments. Their country's entrepreneurs' success in commercializing ground-breaking technologies not only serves to strengthen Canada's economic future, but it also helps to place Canada on the map as a research and innovation leader.
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