Innovative circular economy solution in the textile sector supported by the C-Voucher Acceleration Program

9 months ago, the company Katty Fashion from Romania wins in Spain the final of the first voucher scheme for the circular economy C-Voucher, entering together with 5 other companies from France, Sweden, Denmark and Bulgaria, in an extensive acceleration program for the development and the implementation of innovative solutions.

Katty Fashion is a small company that works with many foreign fashion houses, producing on average 30,000 pieces of clothing annually, for which it processes about 140,000 square meters of fabrics and knitwear, generating over 20,000 square meters of material waste.

Scaling the process, there are over 100,000 clothing companies in the European Union alone, 5% being large producers. In a market where textile waste generated by traditional cutting and manufacturing processes in the clothing sector reaches up to 30%, generating around 100 billion cubic meters of waste globally annually, concerted solutions are needed to reduce environmental impact and raise awareness communities and producers on this phenomenon. In addition, textiles go through a complex manufacturing process, involving investments in labor, energy, water and time, consumption of dyes and chemicals. When a fabric is wasted, these investments are partially lost. The gradual awareness of the need to reduce the major negative impact of the production and consumption of textiles and clothing on the environment and the quality of human life determines the continuous reconfiguration of supply chains, production processes and consumption patterns in this sector.

With the 58,000 euro voucher won within the European C-Voucher project, the Katty Fashion company managed to optimize the product development process by improving the technology used in the design and prototyping of women's clothing items. By implementing a 3D CAD/CAM software for digitization and virtual prototyping for the clothing industry and adapting to company-specific production, material consumption, delivery time and textile waste resulting during manufacturing processes have been reduced. The software service provider, selected through a competitive procedure, trained the company's technical staff in the use of the program, the voucher being transferred in two installments.  

In the form of a toolkit embedded in the company's procedures, there is now the possibility of real-time collaboration with customers, a real collaborative service that allows their involvement in the co-creation of prototypes, with beneficial effects on increasing quality, reducing costs and optimizing the use of resources for the entire process manufacturing. By integrating the realistic shapes and volumes of the human body into the product design process and presenting it in the virtual environment, for the client to view and operate touch-ups or other types of transformations directly on the virtual prototype, the number of intermediate physical prototypes was thus significantly reduced , and the entire product development cycle was shortened by up to 60 %.

"In this highly competitive and dynamic industry, we believe that the future belongs to companies that invest in their responsible technological and organizational development and the effective use of all the resources at their disposal to create solid competitive advantages based on innovation and performance and not cheap labor and low prices.” says Caterina Aliesei, manager and founder of the Katty Fashion company.

For 9 months, Katty Fashion benefited within the C-Voucher Acceleration Program from the constant assistance of an expert in coaching and organizational management, with design thinking skills, contracted from the budget allocated by ADR Nord-Vest in the project, as well as from business mentoring to draw up an investment plan and identify further funding sources, from partners Blumorpho and Econet, successful business accelerators in France and Spain. The activity was carefully guided and monitored by ADR Nord-West experts and the coordinator of the C-Voucher project, the Fundingbox accelerator in Poland.

In the future, Katty Fashon aims to gradually develop a collaborative platform for real-time work with customers, as well as a circular digital business model, involving the management of the entire product life cycle, from the design and development of prototypes, series production and delivery to the market, until the recovery of products from consumers to be processed and reintroduced for consumption.

"For us, the C-Voucher program made it possible to take an important step in our strategy of sustainable growth and strengthening our position in a market for which digitization, personalization and sustainability have become key trends and major challenges." said the manager of the Katty Fashion company.

In the same way, five other circular economy solutions were supported and developed through the concerted effort of direct financial support in the form of the innovation voucher and the expertise of the project partners:

  • technology development for a HaaS modular laptop (France)
  • innovative technology based on a membrane for water purification (Denmark)
  • rental platform for adult recyclable absorbent pads (Sweden)
  • reusable and traceable tableware for public catering (France)
  • food supplement from nutrient protein obtained in parallel with organic silk production (Bulgaria)

Starting in March 2020, six more companies will enter the second C-Voucher Acceleration Program, benefiting from the same integrated package of support services and innovation vouchers. The competition ended on January 7, with 90 applications submitted from over 20 countries. The winning projects will be awarded at the beginning of March in Paris, when the pitching session will take place between 12 semi-finalist companies that will be announced in February, following the evaluation.  

The Northwest Regional Development Agency, a partner organization in the C-Voucher project, contributes to the development of the business environment and to facilitating the adoption and development of new technologies. The C-Voucher project is implemented by 13 organizations from 6 countries, namely development agencies, business accelerators and clusters, and is financed by the research - development - innovation program of the European Commission, Horizon 2020, component INNOSUP-01.

Ioana Dragoș, project manager

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