A graduate of the Waterloo School of Architecture has been recognized by a national organization for young entrepreneurs for her work to make fashion greener.

Iris Redinger (BAS ’21) was one of five winners of Mitacs Entrepreneur Awards honoured at a recent event in Montreal for her Waterloo-based startup company, Material Futures.

Supported by several entrepreneurial programs at the University of Waterloo, including Velocity and the Engineer of the Future Fund, Redinger launched the company in 2018 to help reduce the environmental impact of the fashion industry.

Iris Redinger graduated last year from the Waterloo School of Architecture.

Iris Redinger graduated last year from the Waterloo School of Architecture.

Her innovative solution uses micro-organisms to produce all-natural, biodegradable dyes, essentially growing colour that can be easily substituted in existing manufacturing processes. She hopes to launch commercial products based on the technology, which also has potential applications in industries including cosmetics and plastics, next year.

The awards recognize former Mitacs interns who turn research discoveries into businesses that impact the lives of Canadians.

“To build on Canada’s growing success, we need to mobilize and invest in the best,” François-Philippe Champagne, the federal minister of innovation, science and industry, said in a media release announcing the awards.

'All possible through the architectural program'

Redinger, who won in the Environmental Entrepreneur category, learned to sew at a young age and got invaluable insight into the fashion industry during a co-op term with Dutch designer Iris van Herpen in her first year of studies at Waterloo.

Her experience included work on a dress that was shown during Paris Fashion Week and is now part of the collection at the Royal Ontario Museum.

“That was my first exposure to the fashion world and that was all possible through the architectural program,” Redinger said in a recent media interview.

Mitacs, a non-profit organization backed by federal and provincial governments, is dedicated to fostering growth and innovation in Canada by leveraging research from academic institutions.

Main photo by Dilara Baltaci from Pexels