Skip to main content
European Commission logo
European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency (EISMEA)
News article26 May 20213 min read

WORTH Partnership project in focus

Building transnational partnerships for the development of innovative ideas in the lifestyle sector

COSME project WORTH is the sole EU initiative where designers, SMEs, manufacturers, and tech providers work together to develop innovative, design-oriented business ideas. The project focuses on lifestyle industries, including textile and clothing, footwear, leather and fur, furniture, and home decoration, jewellery and accessories. Launched in 2017, WORTH is now in its fourth and last year of implementation.

The project was developed to address some of the key issues affecting the EU fashion and lifestyle industries[1]. The vast majority of enterprises in the fashion and lifestyle sectors are SMEs, micro/individual-companies and craftsmen whose unique competencies, techniques and know-how are often not usually translated into competitive strengths.

These companies face different challenges, such as:

  • difficulty to keep the pace of digital change;
  • limited access to finance and investment;
  • reduced innovation capacity;
  • difficulty to turn towards more green business models, products and services;
  • incapability to establish an effective intellectual property rights (“IPR”) strategy and to go international, etc.

In addition, they are often unable to integrate innovative design knowledge and to work with designers and creatives. Designers, on their side, often lack business skills or practical knowledge related to manufacturing processes, available technology or innovative materials.

WORTH worked at fostering design skills and sustaining the EU manufacturing base and knowledge. Through a series of successful international partnerships, they have addressed the need for strong cross-sectorial collaboration and innovation amongst creative industries and manufacturing SMEs.


Some interesting facts & figures:

  • Over four years, WORTH has selected 152 transnational partnerships involving 350 partners from 34 EU-COSME countries via three different calls. The selected partnerships received a) 10.000 € in financial support; b) coaching on business strategy and technology development; c) legal advice on intellectual property rights and protection; d) participation in exhibitions; e) networking and professional links.
  • The WORTH Networking Platform counts with more than 2600 members, including fashion/industrial/product designers, manufacturing SMEs, creatives and technology firms, from 38 EU-COSME countries
  • WORTH delivered 2300 hours of tailored monitoring and advisory services as well as 40 hours of training.
  • Over 590 offices of the Enterprise Europe Network were connected with the 152 partnerships to foster their business growth.

Most importantly, WORTH led to building sustainable partnerships, as six of every ten partners continue working together, which demonstrates how successful the project has been in triggering the formation of long-lasting business collaborations and developing ventures-building capacity.


WORTH final event

WORTH final event


Two weeks ago (11-12 May) WORTH hosted its final online event: “The future of creative design”.

Around 4.700 participants (including designers, professionals, SMEs, students, journalists, bloggers, and influencers), could enjoy the discussions and learn more about the successful partnerships of the third and last call and its focus on the challenges they are addressing: Circular Economy, Digitalized manufacturing, Reinventing of craftsmanship, Rethinking social innovation and Social inclusion or Smart and high-performance materials.

You were not able to join but are still interested in learning more? We’ve got you covered!

You can revisit the sessions on WORTH’s website.


And that is not all!

The WORTH Partnership project will wrap up in June 2021, but this is not the end of Europe’s largest incubation programme!

 Following the success of WORTH, EASME (now EISMEA) launched a new call for tenders last year, the WORTH Partnership Project II.

The idea of WORTH II is to strengthen the competitiveness of SMEs in the fashion industries and lifestyle sector, increase their innovation capacities and help them in the transition towards climate neutrality and digital leadership. By the end of WORTH II a minimum of 200 trans-national partnerships will have received tailor-made support and coaching in defining and creating new, innovative products, services and business models.

Interested in learning more? Explore all partnerships on WORTH’s website and take a look at the recent Euronews’ Business Planet report that focuses on a great partnership example that takes functional clothing to the next level.


[1] The sector includes companies active in fashion and design-intensive consumer goods, such as textiles and clothing, footwear, fur, leather and leather products, jewellery, accessories, handbags, furniture and home decoration, etc.


Publication date
26 May 2021