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Asics Calls On Startups to Revolutionize Sports and Wellness Sectors

Asics is introducing a new opportunity for emerging startups looking to reimagine sports and wellness for consumers worldwide.

The Japanese apparel and footwear brand announced that it has opened applications for its Tenkan-Ten Growth Catalyst, a startup acceleration program designed for the sports and wellness segment, with a core focus on sustainable growth and impact.

The program, which is the first project from Asics EMEA’s New Business & Innovation Division in Barcelona, aims to find opportunities to build Asics’ “I Move Me” brand campaign and empower consumers to pursue healthier lifestyles.

Interested startups have until June 30 to apply to the program, which seeks initiatives that fit under Asics’ “anima sana in corpore sano”—Latin for “a sound mind in a sound body”—philosophy, which promotes support, engagement and cultivation for global fitness and wellness. The startups will span different fields, including digital platforms and wearables, sports and wellness, and training and health to develop new materials and forms of consumer communications.

The program is open to startups that have passed the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) phase, market validation that tests their product concepts and traction for long-term success. The four-month program will start in mid-September and conclude in January 2019 with a demo tour around major European innovation hubs, including Barcelona and London.

Startups participating in the program will receive $35,688 to support their project and have access to an international network of retail distribution, industry experts and venture capitalists and complementary wellbeing services.

In addition to these benefits, the program says it will also offer C-suite mentorship to the startups. A myriad of Asics executives, including Asics EMEA CEO Alistair Cameron and Asics Digital president and general manager Dan Smith, will coach the startups on product development and scaling their innovations for the greater consumer market.

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Upon completing the program, the startups will join the Asics Alumni Membership Program, which will continue to support their growth through Asics’ partnerships with ACCIÓ (Catalonia Trade & Investment), RCD, Barcelona Tech City and the Global Sports Innovation Centre powered by Microsoft. Asics Ventures, an international investment subsidiary that has supported other technology startups, including Ai Silk Corporation, is also working closely with the project.

“By uniting the speed, creativity and ambition of startups with the knowledge, resources and connections of Asics, we can create a sustainable business for both sides in the long term,” Daniel Dümig, an Asics executive who is heading up the Tenkan-Ten program, said. “In this sense, the Tenkan-Ten approach perfectly combines the creative spirit and drive of external innovators with the scale and expertise of Asics.”

The Tenkan-Ten program comes on the heels of Asics’ recent technology milestones. In March, Asics opened an Innovation Center at its new headquarters in Barcelona, Spain. The hub is a core component of Asics’ Growth Plan 2020, a five-year strategic plan that aims to build Asics’ global presence. The retailer would like to reach $7.06 billion in sales by 2020, with the goal of using its running shoe company to drive its global growth and presence.