October 22, 2009

Nike and PopTech partner to launch “PopTech Labs”

Partnership seeks to foster open collaboration on key innovation challenges.

Camden, ME & New York, NY (October 22, 2009) – PopTech (www.poptech.org), the renowned thought leadership and social innovation network, today announced a new signature offering, PopTech Labs.(www.poptech.org/labs)

Each Lab will bring together a select group of leading scientific researchers, engineers, designers, corporate leaders, policymakers and other key stakeholders around a single topic of research in areas of vital importance to business, society, and the planet. Using open models of collaboration and knowledge sharing, this group will map the landscape around a high-potential idea, and design new incentives – from prizes to research programs – to propel continued efforts.

“PopTech is known for bringing together a wide ranging network of visionaries to explore issues that are shaping the future,” said Andrew Zolli, PopTech’s Executive Director. “Labs allow us to focus this network on working together on specific challenges that are critical to shaping it.”

PopTech will convene its first Lab to help foster the search for new deep green materials, which are benign and low-impact, and which can exist in new large-scale “closed loop” ecosystems wherein the materials in finished products can be used as inputs for new products. Nike, the world’s leading designer of athletic shoes and apparel and already a leader in sustainable innovation via its Considered Design program, is the first partner in this initial Lab exploration.

Lorrie Vogel, Nike Considered GM said: “Nike has made huge strides in designing more sustainable products but we know we can’t continue to tap into the earth’s declining resources to make new and more innovative products. We have to unlock the power of collective innovation to create a future where you can literally turn an old shoe into a new shoe or an old shirt into a new shirt. That currently isn’t possible because we don’t have access to the ideal sustainable and recyclable materials to make these products in the first place.”

PopTech’s “Closed Loop Materials” Lab will examine such materials in a number of contexts, including the technical, green chemistry, supply-chain, policy incentives, industrial scaling, intellectual property and collaboration issues involved.

The Lab will investigate questions such as:

Is a closed loop material ecosystem just a useful metaphor or a real possibility? What performance criteria would new materials have to meet in order to be useful?

What type of sources (biological, agricultural, or synthetic) should be used to generate these future materials? How do we evaluate the lifecycle impacts (water, carbon, embedded energy, toxicity, and waste) of proposed materials?

How might a market for such a material operate at scale? How could policy be used to promote its use?

The goal of the Labs is not to answer these questions definitively, but to understand their impact on one another, and to design new paths to encourage continued work. As part of PopTech’s commitment to openness, insights generated by the Lab will be captured in various media and released to the public under Creative Commons license.

The Closed Loop Materials Lab will kickoff at an invitation-only summit in the spring of 2010, and additional partners are expected to join the initiative in the coming months. PopTech participants and members of the public are invited to learn more and apply to participate at www.poptech.org/labs.

About PopTechPopTech is a renowned thought leadership and unique innovation network dedicated to accelerating the positive impact of world-changing people, projects, and ideas. The organization is known for its thriving community of thought-leaders, visionary annual conferences, engaging media productions, and the breakthrough innovation programs that it fosters worldwide.

PopTech creates transformational experiences that showcase the ideas, trends, challenges and opportunities shaping the future. It is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that fosters breakthrough, multidisciplinary collaborations through which individuals, companies and organizations work together to change the world. Please visit www.poptech.org for more information.

About NikeNIKE, Inc., based near Beaverton, Oregon, is the world’s leading designer, marketer, and distributor of footwear, apparel, equipment, and accessories for a wide variety of athletic and fitness activities. Nike is currently focused on creating performance products with a lower environmental footprint (lower energy, toxics, waste and water), since the largest manufacturing impact comes from the materials used for product creation. Together with PopTech, Nike is seeking proactive, collaborative, and innovative solutions for business and the environment in the challenging decades ahead.