Two hundred eighty-five candidates from 33 EU-COSME associated states responded to the First Call for Proposals for the WORTH II Partnership Project. The Europe's largest incubation programme is dedicated to creatives; it allows designers, SMEs, manufacturers, and technology providers to work together to develop innovative and design-driven business ideas. This second edition of the project, following the success of the first one (WORTH I), was launched in June last year. WORTH II was designed to strengthen the competitiveness of SMEs in the fashion and lifestyle industry, meaning textile and clothing, footwear, leather, and fur, furniture, and home decoration, jewellery, and accessories. The programme helps creative professionals and SMEs increase their innovation capacity and helps them in their transition towards climate neutrality and digital leadership. The project is funded by the COSME Programme of the European Union for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs).
The 285 participants submitted 123 applications covering a wide range of sectoral challenges: 45% textiles and clothing; 28% furniture, interior design and architecture; 13% jewellery and accessories; 7% footwear and 7% leather and fur. The Netherlands, Italy and Spain led in terms of the number of applications submitted.
The project selection process went through a thorough and carefully designed course of action: an internal committee conducted a pre-selection based on the comprehensive and straightforward award criteria. This was followed by a second phase, involving a steering committee of 14 renowned experts in fashion, industrial and product design, arts and architecture: Leslie Holden, Co-Founder at The Digital Fashion Group; Ubaldo Spina, Director of the Design Department at CETMA; Margaret Larmuth expert in innovative thinking and colours in the fashion field; Fulvia Bacchi, CEO of Lineapelle; Parvinder Marwaha, architecture design fashion programme manager at British Council; Kolbrun Gunnarsdóttir, designer, Stylist and Creative Director Kolbrun & Idem Jewelry; Paulo Gonçalves, editor-in-Chief of the Portuguese luxury fashion magazine Soul and Director of Communication at APICCAPS; Gwen Cunningham, Lead Circle Textiles Programme at Circle Economy; Assaad Awad, Spanish/Lebanese multidisciplinary artist, crafter, designer and leather brand owner; Helga Sigurbjarnadóttir, Award winning independent Architecture & Planning Icelandic Professional; Sebastian Thies, 6th generation footwear professional since 1856, Founder and Designer of high-end trainer brand nat-2™; Inga Markovska-Malinauske, co-founder and sales manager at EMKO; Koen Snoeckx, operating from within his own company Luscinus since 2017, strategist and renowned creative industries coach; Janos Keresnyei, creative director of media agency Kerko Media Kft and creative industries coach. The Steering Board of 14 renowned experts selected 65 amazing projects, which were confirmed and approved by the Contracting Authority EISMEA in consultation with the Directorate-General GROW, both agencies of the European Commission; of those, 55 projects will be granted with 10k Euros, 6 projects will receive 20k Euros and 4 projects 15k Euros. The final results were released at a very difficult and challenging time for Europe, especially for Ukrainian and Western European SMEs and entrepreneurs. Among the selected partnerships are two projects involving three Ukrainian participants, a signal that the EU, also through WORTH, is standing by Ukrainian creative professionals and SMEs. In general, the 65 projects will receive incubation support within the WORTH programme. The call for proposals offered, in fact, not only market-based financial support for the development of innovative products, services, or business models with increased added value, but also tailored coaching WORTH II also facilitates market positioning through networking activities and participation in relevant design events and exhibitions; visibility through international media relation activities, advertising, and social media marketing; visibility of their professional profile on the WORTH gallery, a virtual networking space, and marketplace.
The project, combining sustainable development and creativity, is in line with the principles of the New European Bauhaus (NEB) initiative, promoting a background from which all 65 selected partnership projects can benefit. The New European Bauhaus is an environmental, economic, and cultural project aiming to merge design, sustainability, accessibility, affordability, and investment to help deliver the European Green Deal. Launched by the EU commission, the NEB was co-designed with thousands of people and organisations across the European Union and beyond.
WORTH II Partnership Project is an initiative funded by the European Commission under COSME, the EU Programme for the competitiveness of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises. Launched in 2021, WORTH II follows the success of its first edition (2017-2021). 202 transnational partnerships will be selected in three calls for proposals, with the next Call for Application scheduled to be launched in autumn 2022.
Find out more on the website: https://worthproject.eu/