People Korinna Molla


WORTH Partnership Project

Funded by COSME, Programme of the European Union for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs), WORTH Partnership Project creates and supports transnational collaborations between fashion designers, creative people, manufacturing enterprises (SMEs) and technology firms looking to develop design-driven and innovative products. The winning partnerships have access to an incubation platform consisting of basic financial support, personalised coaching and mentoring by international specialists and experts, support in access to finance and market positioning, advice on the protection of intellectual property, and the participation in networking activities and two international exhibitions. In particular, the 63 winning projects on air at Fuorisalone Digital are the result of the Second Call for the WORTH Partnership Project involving 144 partners from 24 European countries.

The interview

A conversation with Korinna Molla

You are the project coordinator of the Worth Partnership Project: the four-year project funded by COSME, the European Union Program for the competitiveness of businesses and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which promotes the creation of transnational collaborations between designers, creatives, companies manufacturing (PMI) and tech firm in order to develop innovative and design products. How was it born?

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of Europe’s economy. They constitute 99% of all companies in the EU. They provide two thirds of private sector jobs and contribute to more than half of the total added value created by business in the EU. Moreover, they have created around 85% of new jobs in the EU. However, SMEs are affected by a limited exploitation of international opportunities and innovation prospects in the single market and beyond. Indeed, SMEs operate mainly at national level, as relatively few SMEs are engaged in cross border business within the EU. WORTH Partnership Project aims to tackle this gap and help SMEs in the fashion and lifestyle consumer goods to take full advantage of the single market through hands-on support to create trans-national partnerships. In addition to this, the project targets a second major challenge for EU economy: innovation. EU needs to maintain and reinforce a strong and high-performing industrial base, but EU manufacturing companies as well as micro-companies and SMEs in the fashion and lifestyle sector, need to innovate to be able to compete in a globalized economy. In this framework, design and creativity are largely recognized as key drivers of innovation able to provide businesses with a clear competitive advantage. Therefore, the promotion and up-take of design by SMEs constitutes a key element to guarantee their competitiveness.

From your privileged observatory on young designers such as European designers address issues such as the circular economy, digital production, and social innovation, are there, for example, differences in the approach between different countries to these themes?

As Nathan Stegall says: “The role of the designer in developing a sustainable society is not simply to create ‘sustainable products’ but rather to envision products, processes, and services that encourage widespread sustainable behaviour”. And what struck me the most is the enthusiasm with which these young designers aim with their projects to change the society's attitude and people mindset towards the main challenges of the future. There are no differences in terms of vision throughout Europe. Everyone is devoted to using less to do more and to facilitate and make people's lives easier and more comfortable through a pervasive use of technology. The differences can lay on the influence of national context. Italian designers have been more aesthetically and artistically driven than, for instance, German designers. The latter country has a strong engineering culture that has had a great influence on the development of design. The design philosophy in different countries changes over time and it is a reflection of the social values at large. However, the visions of the world of the future and the main global challenges to be solved, are similar.

On and from June 15th we will see the winners of the second call, can you anticipate some particularly innovative projects?

We are going to present for the first time 63 innovative projects created thanks to the Worth Partnership Project. It will be possible to discover how European designers have worked in order to innovate the production techniques, reducing waste and searching new ways to boost the circular economy. For example, talking of circular economy, among the several projects, “OCEAN WEAR” proposes the first dynamically knitted swimwear developed using circular design and biodegradable polymer yarns, which will not affect the aquatic environment. If we think of advanced digitised manufacturing, it will be possible to discover “Øjenfryd” that aims to create a portable extension of digital sales rooms to highlight new collections to buyers, using Virtual Reality headsets as a new product research, made from innovative sustainable materials and with fashionable aesthetics. We can definitely say that there will be a lot to discover in terms of innovation, I’m sure that you’ll be surprised by all the projects and the ideas behind!

You will also be present with a daily strip at 12: 00 from 15 to 21 June on, tell us what we will see in this appointment.

7 will be the “magic number” for WORTH Partnership Project at Fuorisalone: we are going to present 7 video meetings for 7 themes for 7 days, that will allow to the visitors to discover Worth Partnership Project and how European designers have interpreted themes such as the circular economy, digital production, the use of high-performance materials, social innovation and craftsmanship 4.0.

To create connections is fundamental for WORTH Partnership Project. That’s why we also decided to create a meeting opportunity between the Fuorisalone TV visitors and the WORTH designers: every day, at the same time as the live video, the protagonists of the projects will be available on Zoom to answer questions, curiosities and exchange experiences with the participants.

© — All rights reserved. — Published on 14 June 2020