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Launch of the "European Technology Platform for the Future of Textiles and Clothing"

2004-12-31 - Brussels, Belgium: The European textile and clothing industry, represented by the European Apparel and Textile Organisation (Euratex), has launched the European Technology Platform for the Future of Textiles and Clothing. The launch took place” on 17 December 2004 in Brussels, In the presence of EU Research Commissioner Janez Potocnik.

“Today, with the launch of the Technology Platform, we can make a big new step in boosting the competitiveness of the European Textiles and Clothing Industry” said Commissioner Potocnik. “The 2020 Vision Document prepared by the European Apparel and Textile Organisation provides a sound and promising basis for the development of the Textiles and Clothing Strategic Research Agenda that will transform industry.”

This initiative will bring together all interested stakeholders: the textile and clothing industry itself, related industries and service providers, the research and education community and public authorities at all levels in a joint effort to map out long term visions and a strategic research agenda for the coming years to support the transformation of this industry into a knowledge-based innovation driven sector.

The objectives of the Technology Platform include:
- pooling and coordination of research, development and innovation efforts and players across Europe;
- developing a long-term vision for industrial transformation and a corresponding strategic research agenda;
- structured improvement of access to innovation-enabling resources and improvement of innovation framework conditions.

The work of the Technology Platform should help the industry to overcome a number of limiting factors to its current research and innovation efforts including a general lack of resources (capital & human), widespread fragmentation and duplication of efforts in Europe, lack of long-term strategies, shortcomings in translating research into innovation, difficulties in protecting IPR and unfavourable innovation framework conditions.

The Technology Platform will be based on 3 pillars, which represent the 3 central concepts with which the industry intends to defend its competitive future position on the global market:
1. To move from commodities towards specialty products from high-tech processes; fibres, filaments, fabrics and final products with highly functional, purpose-targeted properties based on nano- micro- & biotechnologies, new coatings and laminations, digital processes etc.
2. Establishment and expansion of textiles as raw material of choice in many sectors and application fields (transport systems, construction, protective and medical applications, consumer electronics…)
3. To prepare the end of the era of mass manufacture of textile products and to move towards the new industrial era characterised by customisation, personalisation, as well as flexible, on-demand production coupled with intelligent logistics, distribution and services.

Euratex President Filiep Libeert stated: “I believe to make a success of the European Technology Platform for the Future of Textiles and Clothing, could be this industry’s key contribution to the EU’s Lisbon Strategy and Knowledge for Growth initiative. I can assure you Mr. Commissioner, Growth, Competitiveness and Employment through increased Research, Development and Innovation is as high on our agenda as it is on yours.”

The clothing and apparel industry in the EU faces massive competitive pressures from low-wage economies. The European Technology Platform is a recognition of this and the three pillars of the Platform indicate a need to move away from dependency on conventional fabric production and mass produced garment manufacture. That mass customization figures centrally in the three pillars is something of a vindication for European textile companies who have already gone down this route.

The move to develop textiles with highly functional, purpose-targeted properties could, if successful, see many new exiting products being launched in the coming years. Also, the Platform has recognised the importance of non-clothing applications of textiles. In addition to the potential for economic and technological development, using textiles for non-clothing applications could reduce the dependency on materials which require expensive waste management systems when they are disposed.

In a way, the use of textiles for industrial uses reflects an earlier time when fabrics were used for everything from making ropes to aircaft panels. With the development of petro-chemical based plastics and light alloys, the use of fabrics was phased out. Now, however, the new technologies may enable a more advanced set of textiles to become the material of choice for many different industrial applications.

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