UK government to fund AI fashion projects

The UK government has said it will help fund a number of AI-driven fashion projects as part of a wider £32 million investment in the technology.

The government added that it will make a further £5 million available for feasibility studies into 100 projects involving small businesses across the UK

Kapdaa, a sustainable fashion brand in Kingston Upon Thames, has received backing for its AI4Fibres project, using AI for textile and fibres recycling and among the winners of the £5 million fund.

The company is developing AI-powered cloth recycling to reduce the fashion industry’s environmental footprint and cut back on the estimated 921,000 tonnes of used textiles disposed of in household waste in the UK each year, the equivalent of “more than 70,000 London buses”.

Kapdaa’s technology can sort and process textile waste by material, while removing zips and buttons to increase recycling and reduce landfills.

Current manual methods are reliant on accurate labelling or use of handheld machines to scan the garments individually, which can make the process labour intensive and expensive.

“When it is deployed safely and responsibly, AI can and will transform what is possible in the world of work, unlocking gains in productivity and efficiency that could never have been imagined before,” said Michelle Donelan, science and technology secretary.

She added: “That is why we are backing 100 small teams with the seed of an idea – from using AI to boost clothing recycling to driving housebuilding – to drive them forward. At the same time our £32 million competition will support teams of all sizes to kick their ideas on to the next level, further helping us shape how this vital technology of the future can work for us and grow our economy.”

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