On Thursday, October 22, the textile firm Desigual unveiled its first selection of startups that will participate in its Awesome Lab acceleration program . The announcement was made during an event organized by Plug and Play , an open innovation platform with which the company has launched this initiative, which aims to promote the development of technological solutions to face the challenges posed by the industry of Fashion.
This event hosted a round table on the challenges and opportunities of large corporations in the face of innovation, and the added value of startups to accompany the transformation of companies towards more collaborative, technological and sustainable models.
Marta del Amo, editor-in-chief of MIT Technology Review in Spain, was the master of ceremonies and moderator of this conversation, where the Technology Innovation Leader of Desigual, Javier Fernández, participated; the Director of Plug and Play Spain, Jaime de Borbón y Dos Sicilias and the head of Corporate Venturing at ACCIÓ, Albert Torruella.
Thomas Meyer, founder and president of Desigual, took the opportunity to highlight that the company he runs feels “pride” in being the first fashion company in Spain that integrates open innovation “as the central axis of its strategy”, acting as an exchange platform for trends, ideas and creativity. “We want to build an Open Desigual with which we shape an ambition, which is to make collaboration the tool that differentiates us and allows us to be more competitive,” he said.
Meyer added that with Awesome Lab they are looking for “a more open-minded model” , that is, one that is capable of approaching ‘startups’ at an earlier stage and implementing their solutions in their business model. In short, it is a bet with which they seek to continue transforming themselves in this stage of “growth” that they are in. “Collaboration is the future,” Meyer said.
The event concluded with the staging of the start of the first acceleration program promoted by Desigual and Plug and Play. A program whose call was opened between the months of July and September and to which more than 150 startups from 25 different countries were presented , after identifying and analyzing more than 800 startups that respond to the proposed challenges.
In total, there will be seven startups that will participate in the first edition of this acceleration program designed together with Plug and Play, where they will be able to develop their high growth potential and access benefits that facilitate financing. Vestico, Syrup Tech, Swearit, Personify XP, Resortecs, Exonode and SXD have been the selected innovations, which deliver technological solutions through blockchain, artificial intelligence, new materials and machine learning.
From now on, startups will have various resources and benefits with which to enhance their project, such as access to the Desigual headquarters in Barcelona, material, key contacts, a network of suppliers and logistics services, according to the needs of each.
During the next 9 months , these new businesses will be developing proofs of concept together with Desigual, in order to present them in a DemoDay in front of guests from the venture capital industry, such as investment funds and angel investors, among others.
The head of the Innovation area at Desigual and Awesome Lab, Javier Fernández, assured that with this program they are looking for “an exercise in opening up to new work models”, establishing contacts with talent from outside the organization.
Fernández assured that this selection of finalist companies can help promote “the culture of change at the winter level” and in turn they will be able to benefit from its “consolidated business model and our experience in the market.” At all times, he has stressed that the objective is “to give them our resources without putting up barriers or demanding exclusivity from them.”
For his part, Albert Torruella, head of Corporate Venturing at ACCIÓ Barcelona, highlighted the relevance of this type of initiative “since competition today is not only between companies but between ecosystems. We have seen it in cases like Silicon Valley , where they have been able to generate proposals that attract talent. This is what Desigual is doing with this initiative “.
From Plug and Play Spain, the partner that has accompanied Desigual in the process of building its accelerator, they have insisted on their catalytic role in this program. “What we do is look for the problem and through our network of offices find the best solutions. We do not have a secret formula to identify the best startup, but a very proven methodology. In the particular case of Desigual I am sure that we will to find great solutions because behind there is a transversal implication of the entire organization “, affirms Jaime de Borbón Dos Sicilias.