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Asics Wants to Attract European Start-Ups with Barcelona Innovation Lab

Asics wants to be a launching pad for new ideas in footwear development, and its creating the platform to do it.

The Japanese performance footwear and apparel brand is opening an Innovation Center in its new headquarters in Barcelona.

The Barcelona newspaper La Vanguardia reported that the hub, called Tenkan-Tan, will focus on developing new services, products and technologies with the aim of enhancing the end-user experience.

Tenkan-Tan is designed to attract and accelerate the growth of European sports and wellness-centered start-ups. European companies looking to plant their feet solidly in the future of the sports and fitness markets have the opportunity earn a four-month mentorship at the center.

Selected firms will have access to mentorships and training lead by Asics in areas of business, strategy and innovation. Participants will also receive 30,000 euros (or $37,000) in funding to support their project.

The hub is part of Asics Growth Plan 2020, an ambitious five-year strategic plan to build sustainable global growth. The company wants to reach 750 billion yen (or $7.06 billion) in sales by 2020. Those sales, according to the company, will be largely driven by its running shoe category.

Asics’ goal, according to the growth plan, is “to continue delivering breakthrough innovations to excite a wide range of runners that will allow them to achieve their ultimate goals and aspirations.” In its major markets—which include the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and China—Asics has set a target of achieving no less than the No. 2 position in each market in terms of consumer choice.

The growth plan’s core strategy is based on shifting to a direct-to-consumer mindset, expanding its consumer base and creating innovative products and services that positively impact consumers’ lifestyles. Asics is also looking to move to more data-driven decision making processes, which it expects to drive improved profitability and sustainable growth.