Weaving eco-threads across the Mediterranean

    “Entrepreneurs will be able to put into practice the concept of circular economy in a textile and clothing sector in need of new sustainable business models. STAND Up! knots together the shores of the Mediterranean, connecting knowledge, innovation, traditions and habits.”

    Anna Ibañez de Arolas, Project Manager – STAND Up! Coordinator (Spain)

    It is a cocktail of past and future, of new technologies and old traditions, of opportunities offered by web 2.0 mixed with knowledge and skills from remote and distant regions of the Mediterranean. It is innovation combined with ancient artisan knowledge and new entrepreneurial visions.

    The added value of the STAND Up! project – supported by the ENI CBC Mediterranean Sea Basin Programme – is “to promote environmental sustainability within one of the most  impactful economic segments at environmental level, with the objective of accompanying the textile sector towards the green transition” – says Filippo Guarini from the Prato Textile Museum Foundation, the Italian partner of the initiative. The cross-border element of the project is held in high regard by the project partners. They all are aware of the potential offered by the Mediterranean dimension, with different traditions into dialogue, each with its own important wealth of styles and knowledge. The partnership, with an outstanding track record, combines an exceptional pool of skills between the research and the industrial sectors. It offers particular attention to the artisan tradition, but also familiarity with the new trends in high tech design, interpreting the needs and values of contemporary cultures.

    Immediate target of STAND Up! are entrepreneurs and eco-innovative ventures, including newcomers, the many talented young people attracted to the fashion and design sector in Spain, Italy, Tunisia, Lebanon and Egypt. Other  recipients are business support organizations and players, ranging from the artisanal/industrial milieu of the textile  supply chain to the finance and economic sector, from bodies promoting training and education to the political and  legislative context in charge of enabling growth.

    On the wave of increased environmental sensitivity and based on life cycle impacts of products and manufacts, new business strategies are identified by the project as ways to accelerate the fashion industry’s transition to a circular system. The final aim? To reach sustainable consumption and production, while preventing pollution and saving resources. 

    What makes STAND Up! special is that it gets its hands dirty, doing concrete things not only with those who create and produce, but also with those who sell and distribute”, says Francesco Bolli from the Prato Textile Museum Foundation.

    In summer of 2021 we entered the second year of the execution period, and we are very close to the boom in the activities, despite a physiological delay due to the pandemic,” says Anna Ibañez from the Catalan Waste Agency, the lead beneficiary of the project. “400 entrepreneurs are the final beneficiaries of the project. So far, we have delivered direct support to more than 220 people in the five countries with training and capacitation on the green business model development: a prospect of entrepreneurial growth that takes onboard the environmental impact as a key element”. Based on this capacitation, 20 early-stage ventures are starting a seven-month incubation process, with 18 young entrepreneurs teaming in eight ventures in Italy and Lebanon already onboard. Other 12 ventures are expected soon also in Egypt, Spain and Tunisia.

    Beyond that, ventures and entrepreneurs are supported with three kinds of vouchers: 40 intellectual property rights vouchers, equal to € 5.000 each; 20 soft-landing vouchers, equal to € 9.000 each, to expand into an overseas market; and 20 open innovation vouchers, equal to € 20.000 each, that assist entrepreneurs to develop solutions for some of the more burning circular challenges of established companies.

    A digital open innovation platform is to be launched in 2021 with the perspective of benefiting from the solutions provided by external enablers. The platform has been designed taking as a reference the SwitchMed project, an initiative funded by the European Union and implemented by the United  Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the United Nations Environment Programme and the Catalan Waste Agency-Regional Activity Center for Sustainable Consumption and Production. This connection allows the STAND Up! participants to link with financial investors, entrepreneurs and broker investments also under the Switchers Fund, a successful existing investment scheme. Through its open innovation platform, STAND Up! is in the process of forging cross-border delivery linkages, aggregating the textile and clothing value chain and connecting to existing complementary projects, such as the GIMED project or the TEX-MED project, always within the ENI CBC Mediterranean Sea Basin Programme.

    Finally, between late 2021 and early 2022 the project is going to launch three prizes worth in total € 50.000, addressing the most promising circular business projects for solutions to textile manufacturing and clothing industry.

    The pandemic is getting us to rethink some of the founding values reflected in the entrepreneurial action of the textile industry. Thanks to the evolution of tastes and consumption, the big fashion brands are beginning to express sensitivity to the eco-sustainability of products and production processes,” says Filippo Guarini. Making a virtue of necessity or rediscovering the beauty of what is necessary, useful, and important: here is the challenge for a new generation of couturier and fashion professionals from the five corners of the Mediterranean. STAND Up! couldn’t  have come at a better time.

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