Desigual has recently announced the first group of startups that will participate in its acceleration program. Together with Plug and Play, the innovation platform with which the initiative has been launched Awesome Lab, aims to develop technological solutions for the fashion industry.
The presentation event for the finalist startups, held at the Desigual headquarters in Barcelona, 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 Javier Fernández, Desigual’s technology innovation leader; Jaime de Borbón Dos Sicilias, director of Plug and Play Spain and Albert Torruella, responsible for corporate venturing at ACCIÓ.
Thomas Meyer, founder and president of Desigual, took advantage of the welcome to all those present to highlight that «We are proud to be the first fashion company in Spain that integrates open innovation as the central axis of its strategy, acting as a platform for the exchange of 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 ».
«With Awesome Lab we are looking for a more open-minded model that is capable of approaching startups in the early stages and implementing their solutions in our business model. It is a bet that will help us to continue transforming ourselves in this new stage of growth in which we find ourselves. Collaboration is the future »Meyer added.
New working models
The event was 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 they were submitted more than 150 startups from 25 different countries, after identifying and analyzing more than 800 startups that responded to the proposed challenges. To reach the seven finalists, the company management, the innovation department, Plug and Play and professionals from different areas were involved.
«This experience constitutes an exercise in opening up to new work models, a change of mentality towards forms of collaboration that connect us with talent from outside the organization. The first step was to identify the strategic challenges that we needed to respond to. The second, select the ideal proposals, based on criteria such as potential in the market, and level of innovation », explains Javier Fernández, head of the Innovation area at Desigual and Awesome Lab.
“We are very happy with the finalists and we want to carry out joint proofs of concept, incorporating their agility and ability to innovate in our company. We believe that these can help us foster a culture of change internally and, in turn, benefit from our established business model and our experience in the market. In this Open Desigual we want to open our resources to them without putting up barriers or demanding exclusivity from them; all with the aim of inserting more innovation and technology in the fashion sector and achieving improvements and constant transformation », adds Javier Fernández.
For his part, Albert Torruella, head of corporate venturing at Acció Barcelona, highlighted the relevance of this type of initiative «Since the 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 today with this initiative ».