The Mills Fabrica Expands to the UK with the Launch of Pilot Incubation and Community Events
19 June 2019 – The Mills Fabrica is excited to announce its expansion to the UK with the launch of a pilot cross-border incubation programme as well as upcoming community events in the UK.
The Mills Fabrica expands to the UK
The Mills – a landmark revitalization project by the Nan Fung Group transforming their old textile factories into a new heritage and innovation center – officially launched in Hong Kong in December 2018. Fabrica, the innovation arm of The Mills is dedicated to supporting innovators from all around the world within the field of techstyle and aims to build a global techstyle community. As part of their mission, The Mills Fabrica will be expanding to the UK to create an open platform and bridge the gap between Asia and Europe to support techstyle startups across the two continents.
Similar to Hong Kong, the UK is renowned for its rich textile history; from textile production made with wool from the Midlands in the 18th century, to producing half of the world’s cotton cloth by the middle of the 19th century. Fast forward to today, techstyle innovation is becoming increasingly prevalent in London which is home to world-class universities and research institutions in fashion, science and technology including Central Saint Martins, Royal College of Arts, London College of Fashion, Francis Crick Institute and Imperial College as well as various leading techstyle brands/retailers and innovators/ startups. As an international technology hub, with Silicon Roundabout in East London and Knowledge Quarter in Kings Cross, London as the world city is the prime location for the next phase of expansion for The Mills Fabrica.
The launch of pilot cross-border incubation programme
Modelled after the Fabrica Incubation Programme in Hong Kong, UK incubatees will benefit from 12-months customized support based on the startup’s vision and key milestones. They will also have access to The Mills Fabrica’s vast global network in the techstyle space and exposure opportunities in Asia and around the world. Incubatees will receive support in terms of connections and exposure not just in the UK but also in Hong Kong and Asia. This includes sharing their story and innovation on international stages and at some of the world’s biggest startup events/conferences. In addition, teams will have the opportunity to develop their businesses in Hong Kong at The Mills Fabrica having access to: (1) Fabrica Space – 15,000 sqft of flexible coworking and event space with private offices, fixed and hot desks and event venue for conferences and symposiums, (2) Fabrica Lab – a state-of-the-art prototyping lab, curated in collaboration with The Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA); a space for experimentation and an open platform for entrepreneurs, students, corporates and the general public to unleash their creativity and transform ideas into real products and (3) Techstyle X – an experiential and experimental retail store dedicated to showcasing the latest techstyle innovations and raising awareness of technologies to the end consumer.
Our first pilot incubatees in the UK will be Smartzer and Reflaunt – both of which are revolutionizing the techstyle industry:
Reflaunt creates a technology that promotes circular economy by connecting brands/retailers with the second hand market. The technology allows customers of brands/retailers to resell, donate or recycle their past purchases directly from the e-commerce site of the brand/retailer.
Smartzer is a platform that makes videos interactive and shoppable by adding an overlay with clickable hotspots. Viewers can click on anything in a video to see more information or links to shop. The interactive overlay is automatically optimised for all video formats and distribution channels including websites, social media, video ads, and touch screen experiences. Detailed video interaction data is used to understand video performance and to inform creative decisions for future video campaigns. Part of the LVMH La Maison Des Startups, Smartzer’s clients include COS, Zimmermann, Harvey Nichols, Swarovski, Jimmy Choo, Feelunique, Missoni x Adidas, and GroupM.
Similar to Hong Kong, the incubation programme will accept companies on a rolling basis. Interested techstyle startups can reach out to The Mills Fabrica team for more information.
“We are thrilled to join The Mills and feel extremely fortunate to have their support on this journey. Our collaboration will be a great opportunity for us to strengthen our foothold in Asia and extend our network in the region.”
-Felix Winckler, CMO – Reflaunt
(L to R: Felix Winckler, CCO & Co-Founder / Philippe Benedetti, CTO & Co-Founder / Stephanie Crespin, CEO & Co-Founder, Reflaunt)
- “We are incredibly excited to be part of The Mills Fabrica program, bringing techstyle innovation to the UK. Combining the potential in the UK and Europe with the experience and expertise of The Mills Fabrica from Hong Kong and the Asian market enables for a unique opportunity to create globally relevant innovation in this space.”
-Karoline Gross, Founder & CEO – Smartzer
(L to R: Jonny Brankin, CTO / Karoline Gross, Founder & CEO – Smartzer)
Building a techstyle community through Fabrica events
Fabrica aims to build a global techstyle community for knowledge sharing and a platform to facilitate collaboration between startups, brands, corporates, academia and research institutions through a series of carefully curated events. For its soft launch on the 19th June 2019, The Mills Fabrica hosted a one-day symposium, ‘Techstyle Futures: Innovations for Global Change’ in Kings Cross, London. It brought together the key ecosystem players and game-changing startups within the techstyle industry from Europe and Asia who shared their insights and vision for the audience. The UK’s Department for International trade set the scene by introducing the great synergies between Hong Kong and the UK, followed by the inspirational story behind The Mills from its founder, Vanessa Cheung. Speakers from the likes of Design Council, WGSN, Stella McCartney, Kering, H&M Foundation, The Hong Kong Research Institute of textiles and Apparel (HKRITA), Crystal Group and Far Eastern New Century (FENC) also graced the stage to share how innovation is transforming their companies and enabling their businesses to become more sustainable across the value chain. The symposium also featured some of the techstyle industry’s leading startups such as Reflaunt, Unspun, MOTIF, Algalidfe, Resortecs, Re:newcell and Petit Pli. In the coming year, The Mills Fabrica would look to continue to co-host and organize similar community events for the industry and public with our various partners.
Growing the techstyle community in the UK
Over the past year, The Mills Fabrica has had the pleasure of collaborating with its various UK and European partners such as Central Saint Martins, H&M Foundation Global Change Award and Fashion for Good. As The Mills begins its journey in the UK, it hopes to continue to build a global community, together with like-minded partners who share the same vision in supporting Techstyle innovation success stories.
- “We are excited to announce our expansion to UK/ Europe. Over the past year it has been a pleasure to work with our various international partners in this region be it universities, brands/ retailers or other incubators/ investors. With this new expansion, we look forward to continue to work with our partners in building out a global Techstyle community of innovators and to support these innovators to take their ideas to market.”
-Vanessa Cheung, Founder – The Mills
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