Jul 15, 2021
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Desigual invests 1 million euros in launch of startup accelerator

Jul 15, 2021

Desigual is making strategic moves towards innovation. The Catalan fashion brand has taken its collaborative efforts one step further with the launch of a new project: a startup accelerator dubbed "Awesome Lab." The brand is the first Spanish fashion company to take on an initiative of this kind, with which it hopes to "promote the implementation of innovative solutions and the culture of innovation within the organisation."

Inside Desigual's offices in Barcelona - Desigual

"We believe that there is a lot of creativity and innovation outside of Desigual and collaborations are a way of accessing this. Joining forces is a new way of understanding how to move forward and is a vision which links up with new generations," explained the company's managing director Alberto Ojinaga when presenting Desigual's new project during an interview with FashionNetwork.com.

In partnership with the open innovation platform Plug and Play, which has previously invested in the likes of Dropbox and PayPal, Desigual has established an accelerator programme, which is launching with an initial investment of around 1 million euros. Through this initiative, the company intends to support startups through mentoring or by helping with resources and tools, with the aim of "boosting their growth and the development of necessary solutions for the transformation of the sector." In this way, for Ojinaga, this launch implies "the start of a new phase of growth."

"This initiative allows us to help startups develop their solutions in a way that is better adapted to the needs of current business models and incorporate them in earlier stages," explained Desigual's head of tech innovation, Javier Fernández. 

"Here at Plug and Play, we firmly believe in the potential of Awesome Lab and we are convinced that this collaboration will strongly boost innovation in the fashion industry," stated Jaime de Borbón Dos Sicilias, the platform's director in Spain. "This joint project helps us to take another step forward in the consolidation of our presence in Barcelona, which is already making a name for itself as a global hub for innovation." 

An investment of 15 million euros over three years

With the intention of searching for international talent and innovation, Awesome Lab will launch its first call for applications on 20 July. 10 challenges have been set by Desigual's various departments, which will test everything from customer relations and design to product development. Applications will remain open until 15 September, when Plug and Play will make a first selection of 150 startups which have responded to the challenges in "an innovative way." After the evaluation of the proposals by a jury made up of industry figures, Plug and Play experts and Desigual founder Thomas Meyer, between five and seven projects will be chosen.

In parallel to the startup accelerator programme, Desigual also plans to select some projects to receive up to 15 million euros in investment over the next three years through the creation of an investment fund. 

Founded in Barcelona in 1984, Desigual currently employs more than 2,700 people and has operations in 197 countries, where it boasts 428 stores spread over 10 sales channels. The company reported 360 million euros in revenue in 2020, a 38.8% decline compared to the previous year. 

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