Posted Wednesday 22 November 2023
A sustainable fashion brand which Kingston University helped secure funding was recently visited by Secretary of State for Science, innovation, and Technology, Michelle Donelan MP.
KAPDAA is a Kingston based, multi-award-winning sustainable fashion brand that creates a variety of items ranging from bags, scarves and books to yoga mats, hairbands and more.
The company has recently been awarded funding from the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology to further develop the AI technology it uses to scan materials and accurately identify what they are made from, making the process of recycling and reusing them much easier.
Over the last three years KAPDAA have saved over 15,000 metres of fabric from going to landfill, preventing waste and reducing greenhouse gas emissions – all while running a thriving business.
The relationship between Kingston University and KAPDAA started when founder Nish Parekh approached the business development team at Kingston with the idea of a sustainable fashion brand powered by AI. The team at the University then used their expertise and experience with similar projects as well as extensive market research to help Mr Parekh bring his idea to life.
Business development manager Lesley Stigling and business project manager Cassie Talfourd-Rich oversaw KAPDAA's funding applications which eventually led to the company securing funding from Innovate UK. The team also identified several academics and students who could help the company in their next stage of growth.
One key academic involved in the collaboration and who was present for the minister's visit was Professor Vasilis Argyriou, an AI expert at Kingston University. "During the minister's visit I was proud to be able to share with her the Ai4Fibres project we have collaborated on with KAPDAA," he said. "The project uses AI to recycle textiles and fibres into new clothes."
Another Kingston University academic involved with the collaboration is Dr Olga Duran, a senior lecturer in mechanical engineering. "The project with KAPDAA has been going for over a year and is aimed at enhancing the UK's textile recycling capabilities and promoting a circular economy," she said. "I was delighted to present our findings to the minister and discuss the next steps."
KAPDAA founder Nish Parekh praised the partnership with Kingston and in particular on the Ai4FIBRES project. "Our aim is to make the UK self-sufficient for its own textile waste," he said. "Working with Kingston University we are creating a one-of-a-kind AI system completely conceptualised and built in the UK providing a unique way to reduce landfill. Eventually, it will not only inspire but create an entirely new sector in sustainability for the next generation."