Creatives & Changemakers

Restructuring the textile and fashion industry with innovative solutions for a sustainable future

Caroline Wendt
February 15, 2022

NEST – New Entrepreneurship for a Sustainable Textile Industry – is launched as an initiative to change the textile and fashion industry. In the spring of 2022, NEST offers a free, catapult-like, process that will help start-ups lift their innovative ideas to solve problems facing the textile industry.

The textile industry’s enormous impact on the environment is linked to a linear and undigitalized value chain. In order for change to occur, innovation and creative thinking is required in every part of the chain, from ideation, through business development, to business. NEST now exists for Sweden to take a lead in restructuring an industry that has been of great importance to us before – and that can now be of great importance once again.

NEST was created by four incubators: Borås INK, eXpression Umeå, Sting, and xPlot. It’s a national initiative supported by the Swedish Innovation Agency Vinnova, the Swedish trade and employer’s association for companies within the textile and fashion industry, TEKO, Textilhögskolan in Borås, as well as industry and commerce. The aim is that by combining the four incubators’ expert areas – ranging from textile to tech – as well as a geographical spread ranging from Umeå in the north to Lund in the South, the actors of NEST will together identify and accelerate start-ups with innovative solutions can contribute to long-lasting change.

“We need innovation and companies doing things in an untraditional way. We can think about new business models, or to move away from traditional methods, as well as purely technical challenges that could perhaps be solved with new innovative production methods, robotization, and AI. We might also need to re-think the customer experience. Perhaps we won’t own all of our products in the future without the customer feeling like they’re giving up on something. I think few people think streaming services are worse than owning DVDs in the way that we did before. It could be a solution for our sector of work as well,” says Cecilia Tall, Secretary General of TEKO.

Entrepreneurs participating in NEST gain access to an industry-wide network and niche knowledge. It is a free, intensive program that hopes to give participants a catapult-like effect into launching and commercializing their products or services at a faster and lower risk.

Applications for NEST opens on February 7th, 2022. Entrepreneurs who are admitted to NEST receive business development and participate in bootcamps visited by industry experts and researchers. The program ends with a pitch event where the winners can move to an incubation process with continued support from all incubators, the possibility of verification grants of up to SEK 300,000 and a change to win a scholarship from TEKO.

This is what the actors behind NEST say:

“The biggest challenge for innovative solutions developed to make the textile industry more sustainble is that it requires cross-industry competence. The purpose of NEST is to make this possible by combining cutting-edge expertise from several different industries, like technological platforms, the cultural industries, retail, and energy supply. It is with great anticipation that I look forward to working with entrepreneurs with promising business ideas, as well as our partners, to make a decisive difference for both the planet and its people,” says program manager Simon Hjelte, business developer at Borås INK.

“We have high expectations on the effect of being able to offer business development and expertise from four players in the innovation ecosystem, to better help solve the sustainability challenges the textile industry is facing. With our diverse expertise, we can better adapt and support entrepreneurs, creating more effective business support,” says Oskar Riby, business developer at eXpression Umeå.  

“Despite the challenges facing the textile industry, we at Sting see how it is just bubbling with new, innovative technology, as well as entrepreneurs who really want to make a difference. For 20 years, we’ve helped Swedish climate innovations reach the global market, and we look forward to joining forces with Borås INK, eXpression Umeå and xPlot to help entrepreneurs across the country transform their innovations into international ventures,” says Pär Hedberg, CEO of Sting.

“It feels incredible to offer entrepreneurs a fast-track to the combined competence and textile and fashion-related network of Sweden at xPlot together with our partners behind NEST. The fashion industry has a long and complex value chain where we need to mix traditional knowledge with cutting-edge expertise in a diverse range of areas, like material research, industry 5.0, the future of trade, sustainable business models, and circular material flows. We have extensive experience with acceleration and cross-innovative process within the creative industries and see NEST as a fantastic opportunity to quickly develop their business concept, regardless of where they are in the value chain,” says Lars Mattiasson, CEO of xPlot.


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