Call for industry collaboration

ITMA 2023 is addressing the need for greater and more diverse industry collaboration. Jessica Basey reports.

“Be solution-driven not subject-driven,” said Professor Parikshit Goswami of the University of Huddersfield, UK, kicking off Saturday’s Innovator Xchange agenda with a call to focus on cross-disciplinary collaboration.

The session which formed the Advanced Materials s topical keynote at the Innovator Xchange in Hall 3-acknowledged the role Fevents such as ITMA in nurturing diverse shareholder touch points which facilitate industry knowledge sharing. This, said Goswami, is crucial when many of the sustainability, performance and technology challenges of the day require solutions tapping into multiple fields and specialisms.

A long-standing academic himself, Goswami opened the session by acknowledging the crucial role of research institutions in propelling our collective technical knowledge and capabilities. However, he said that while these works are valuable contributions to our industry’s progression, developments may miss the mark in terms

of commercial alignment. Ultimately, opportunities for high-impact innovation are lost when the objectives and efforts of academia and industry are disconnected. Goswami conceptualized this with the common R&D metaphor of the “valley f death”- the perilous bridging phase between ideation and basic research and eventually applied commercialization.

the risks involved at this stage-financial However, this approach, he said, often and otherwise – most ideas fail to come fails to deliver high-impact solutions that to fruition, falling fowl to the hazards of can breach the confines of academia and effectively tackle immediate industry issue development and scaling.

This can be true of academic developments, where compatibility with the commercial landscape is perhaps second to scientific exploration and advancement: “I would publish my paper and wait for my friends to call me a genius,” jokes Goswami, reflecting on his own research career.

The remedy, he proposed, is transdisciplinary research supported by holistic stakeholder intervention. For the progression of textiles & apparel this translates to closer partnerships between artistic output and technical expertise, bringing together design-led fashion disciplines and textile chemistry and technology.

More holistically, however, this approach involves leveraging cross-industry knowledge – medical, automotive, architecture, construction and horticulture, among others. To execute this, Goswami praised the likes of ITMA and other touchpoints that provide an intersection for diverse stakeholders with a commonality in textiles. Such fosters the collaborative ecosystems which Goswami said is critical to supporting truly industry-relevant innovation.

He highlighted the Future Fashion Factory (FFF) as a working example of this philosophy – a collective effort from the UK-based University of Huddersfield, Royal College of Arts and University of Leeds – also in the UK.

The group secured £5.4m (€6.3m) in government-funding for the purposes of advancing textile-relevant technologies and industry circularity readiness. Further financial and operational support has also been rallied by a diverse network of industry partners, with Burberry, Lectra and Decode among its ranks.

FFF’s funded projects include ventures in data-driven design, skills and education and late-stage product customisation. Regardless of topical focus, commercial collaborators are central to project delivery, safeguarding against research redundancy and alignment with real-world industry requirements.

The Innovation Xchange programme continues today with a spotlight focus on ‘Automation & Digital Future, launching with a keynote from Kevin McCoy, vice president Made, New Balance. The session, which centres on automation and reshoring – particularly within the US context – kicks off at 10:30am