Event report - Annual ETP Conference

More than 170 members of the European Textile Technology Platform and other stakeholders gathered on 30-31 March in Brussels at the 12th Textile ETP Annual Conference for an overview on on-going European collaborative research in textile and clothing and to discuss with EU policy makers the needs and opportunities for future EU support.

Textile research in Europe is extremely broad ranging from advanced fibre materials research to sustainability, digitisation and development of new applications of textiles in new high added value end markets. The 28 European projects that presented their activities and results to date at the 12th ETP Annual Public Conference proved this in a very impressive way.

Among the project results exhibits was even a pilot-scale machine. The Fibersort machine aims at accelerating the new circular textile system by automatically sorting textile waste items based on their fibre compositions.

The Annual Conference was dedicated to the exploration of textile related research across the major European Research and Innovation Programmes including HORIZON 2020, COSME, LIFE+ and INTERREG. The 28 projects were divided in parallel sessions according to the four topics of the Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA) presented in October 2016: Smart, high-performance materials, Advanced digitised manufacturing, value chains and business models, Circular Economy and Resource Efficiency, High-value added solutions for attractive growth markets.

Download here the full event report and an overview of all presented projects.

EU officials in charge of Industrial Technologies, SME (Small and medium-sized enterprise) research and innovation, cluster and regional innovation policies discussed with the audience about the lessons learned from recent years and the stake of future new funding and policy options of relevance to the textile and clothing sector.

Mr. Reichert (SME Research, EU Executive Agency for SME’s) explained the lessons learned and EU expectations for the Horizon 2020 SME funding instruments, which experience very high oversubscription and correspondingly low success rates. He said: “We are not seeking to fund research projects, but provide very attractive growth funding for SME’s which can demonstrate a significant market opportunity and a willingness to grow substantially based on a technological or non-technological innovation. Unfortunately, we receive too many project proposals which are rather research, than industry innovation driven. The business case for an ambitious and realistic company growth is often unconvincing.”

Mr Nicklas (DG Grow, EC) said “I’m very pleased to see Textile Innovation among the first Thematic Partnerships launched on the smart Specialisation Platform for Industrial Modernisation, demonstrating that Smart Regional Specialisation should not only focus on the fashionable high-tech sectors, but also help the established industrial sectors that provide a lot of manufacturing jobs in Europe to move up the innovation and value adding ladder.”

While John Cleuren (DG Research & Innovation, EC) claimed that “We need more industrial companies driving research projects rather than research projects that involve industry”.

Europe must speed up

In the last years, we witnessed many progresses in the textile research and innovation field. But researchers and technology developers must better target industry innovation needs and be more market oriented.

Paolo Canonico, the ETP President stressed that “We need the support of the European Union to keep our global leadership position in textile innovation. What can we do to get more attention from the European Commission?”. After a recent visit in China, he concluded that “Europe is still the world leader in textile technology, but China and other Asian countries are moving aggressively and catch up very fast”. 

With regard to the EU programmes, it was concluded that funding opportunities will continue to exist across the different schemes supporting research and innovation. However, in the absence of a textile-dedicated support scheme, the sector will have to smartly exploit all options.

Lutz Walter, Secretary General of the Textile ETP, gave an outlook on the starting discussions about the EU research and innovation programme that will succeed HORIZON 2020. He concluded that the competition for funds between fundamental and industrial research, as well as between the different industrial sectors will be very fierce. The sectors will need to work even more multidisciplinary and needs to more boldly advocate its critical role as material and solution providers for many attractive future markets. An example for shifting policy perspectives on the strategic importance of the innovative fibres and textile materials can be taken from the Advanced Functional Fibres and Fabrics of America initiative supported by the US government.

So many new technologies and business models should be quickly transferred to the industry to meet a growing global demand for innovative textile solutions. Mark Nicklas stated: “The sector has to embrace change and show its capacity to adapt to improve its competitiveness. A key role in this process must be played by smart regional support policies.”  The RegioTex initiative, which already involves 15 EU textile regions, is spearheading this development. 

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

« PPE Conference - Sustainability, Digitalisation, smat wearables and EU regulation as drivers of PPE innovation | Main | Annual Public Conference 2017 on 30-31 March in Brussels »