Chances for funding exciting projects is currently better than ever
A new exciting format has been launched by the European Technology Platform with the 1st European Textiles Start-up Summit in Brussels, Belgium on April 17-18, 2018. The annual conference gave stage to around 20 innovative start-ups from all over Europe. The start-up scene in textiles and fashion is currently Europe-wide witnessing a remarkable upswing. Chances to be granted funding for the development of a future oriented business idea are very promising. The textile industry has not really been a pioneer during the last decades when it comes to adapt traditional structures and ingrained thought patterns to changing societal and technological conditions.
There is plenty of inventiveness and research drive, however a lack of fresh entrepreneurship and the right sense of a visionary and successful market development. During two days the different start-up panels gave an insight in successful business models around Europe that may encourage other players in the industry.
Textile industry should consider Amazon as a success model
ETP president Paolo Canonico put it pretty well in a nutshell: „The textile industry is still rather traditional minded and not very open to innovations. Companies need to speed up when bringing their new developments to market. Amazon has set the pace, consumers demand delivery of purchased goods within few days only.”
Against this background he called on the textile industry to create its own ‚Amazon‘ empire, to adapt the rules of the game to the requirements of the sector. His credo: “We need to become more flexible, the customer is the main focus now.” The mindset in companies needs to adapt to changes and the values of young consumers should be considered more in depth. “If we achieve to change the entire structure, we are able to initiate a revolution”, says Canonico.
What about financing then?
The fact is that the textile industry certainly has the poorer cards when it comes to venture capital compared to other industries such as fintech, biotech, healthcare or artificial intelligence. Armando Melone, DG for Internal Market, Industry, entrepreneurship and SME’s, encouraged Europe’s 23.3 million SME’s. Since 2009, the percentage of projects not fully financed by banks has fallen by half, from 34 percent to only 17 percent. Chances to be granted financial support are better than ever. 1.5 billion of the total amount of Horizon 2020 funding of around 2.7 billion Euro are firmly earmarked for SME’s. The EU facilitates access to bank credits, guarantees and intends to stronger promote venture capital and crowdfunding to help start-ups.
What happens in the Start-up scene?
New business models focus on sustainability, circular economy and the wishes of consumers. Also those showcased during the 2 days conference in Brussels. In addition to the possibility of receiving financial support, network organizations offer range expansion and cross-industry lobbying. Pim Kneepkens from Fashion for Good is on the lookout for start-ups who actively contribute to making the fashion industry more sustainable. The platform offers these young companies opportunities for precompetitive cooperation. Renowned brands such as Adidas, Zalando and the Galerie Lafayette Group support the initiative, which is mainly financed by the C & A Foundation. Caroline van Renterghem, a young entrepreneur from Lyon, introduced her product WAIR, a fashionably packed mask for city-bothered bikers. 92 percent of the world’s population suffers from environmental pollution. WAIR offers behind a fashionable textile mouthguard a breathing filter that protects active people on the road in traffic from the harmful environmental toxins. The SUP’AIRMAN app on the smartphone shows the user current air values in France and when it is advisable to use the mask. Sandra Capponi, who lives in Australia and Europe, has developed Good on You, a platform where consumers can find out how sustainable brands really are. The app has been available free of charge for iOS and Android since 2017. More than 1.000 brands are already listed and have submitted to the detailed questionnaire. Very interesting also moovexx, a start-up from Portugal dedicated to comfort and aesthetics. Flexible waistbands and belts are versatile and follow the zeitgeist, which demands comfortable and ergonomic clothing. CEO Renata Iwamizu: “We believe in a bright future. Aesthetics and Style merge perfectly.” The beginning is made with moovexx for fashion, jeans and sports. Lots of other applications are planned from KIKO over HAKA to workwear.
1st European Textile Start-up Summit had a successful kick-off and is supposed to take place annually at several European locations, according to initiator Lutz Walter from Euratex: “European start-ups are mushrooming all over Europe. They need a platform for presentation and networking and this summit is the ideal stage for it. ”