The 10th annual public conference of the European Technology Platform for the Future of Textiles and Clothing (Textile ETP) covering a broad spectrum from new textile materials, to advanced manufacturing technologies as well as digitalization and new business models took place in Brussels from 25-26 March.
The theme of this yearâ€™s event was â€œTextile Research and Innovation in Europe â€“ from 2005 to 2025. The aim of the conference was to demonstrate how innovative, high-tech and diversified the EU textile and clothing sector has become in the last ten years. Over 150 participants from 20 countries witnessed a broad overview of key textile technologies.
The high-level representative of the European Commission, Clara de la Torre, Director for Key Enabling Technologies, the industrial research part of the EUâ€™s HORIZON 2020 research funding programme, highlighted the successful participation of the textile and clothing sector in EU programmes in the past ten years.
She also stressed the crucial role that the Technology Platform has played in facilitating access to these funding opportunities especially for SMEâ€™s as well as enabling collaboration with other sectors.
She admitted difficulties in the start-up of HORIZON 2020 mainly due to the massive oversubscription of the funding calls and invited the Technology Platform to help finding better ways of funding research that will lead to economic growth and job creation in Europe.
The Presidents of AUTEX, the Textile Universities Association, and Textranet, the European Network of Textile Research and Technology Organisations, Dominique Adolphe and Braz Costa, also serving as Vice-Presidents of the Technology Platform, stressed the important role of the academic and applied textile research institutions to ensure that the technologies for industrial breakthroughs for the next ten years are explored, developed and successfully transferred to the industry.
They both confirmed that since the launch of the Textile ETP, collaboration between industry and the textile research community has become closer and more constructive, confirming Europe as the worldâ€™s capital of textile technology.
Throughout the two conference days 20 presentations explored the most promising new technologies and innovations in areas like sustainable fibres, nanofibres, smart textiles, technical textile applications, advanced fibre and textile processing technologies, digitalisation and new business models.
During the closing session Jean-FranÃ§ois Aguinaga, head of the textiles and fashion industry unit of the European Commissionâ€™s newly created DG GROW, reminded participants of the overriding policy goal of the EC under President Juncker of creating economic growth and jobs, the related EUR 315 billion investment package and various initiatives that will involve individual sectors, such as textiles and clothing into the practical implementation.
Closing the conference, Lutz Walter, Secretary General of the Technology Platform provided a glimpse onto the changing environment in which the Textile ETP will operate in its second decade. While he sees exciting technology and market opportunities and an innovative and resilient industry to grasp them, he was less sanguine about the current EU support opportunities. He vowed to address the current shortcomings of HORIZON 2020 with EU policy makers. He also suggested to better exploit the platform to identify and connected highly specific textile expertise across Europe towards a smart textile specialisation and to develop the Textile ETP into a think tank bringing the best textile minds in Europe together in a common forum
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