Boosting EU regional textile innovation with RegioTex
Europe’s textile and clothing sector will boost competitiveness through the EU regional Smart Specialisation Strategies and a better connection of regional innovation clusters
Well over 100 participants from 23 regions across 19 EU countries attended the public launch of the RegioTex initiative held mid-April 2016 at the Committee of the Regions in Brussels. The event co-organised by the European Technology Platform for the Future of Textiles and Clothing (Textile ETP) and EURATEX – the European Apparel and Textile Confederation, was embedded in the 11th annual public conference of the Textile ETP.
The RegioTex initiative brings together stakeholders from the textile, clothing and related industries, their research, technology and education providers as well as public authorities and agencies in a joint effort to develop and implement strategies that will facilitate and accelerate the emerging industrial renewal in traditional manufacturing regions across Europe. The goal is to strengthen the regional textile innovation capacities and to establish effective European collaboration and peer-to-peer learning between regional actors.
With the revised EU Regional and Cohesion Policies for the period 2014-2020, Europe’s regions will have some €110 billion available to spend on research and innovation-related activities based on their regional Smart Specialisation Strategy (RIS3). It is expected that these top-down RIS3 policies and programmes will reach the greatest impact on regional industrial competitiveness, innovation performance and job creation potential if they are implemented in a close partnership with the regional innovation actors organised in a bottom-up approach.
RegioTex has been driven forward during its preparatory phase since mid-2015 by six European textile and clothing industry regions (Catalunya and Valencia, Spain; Nord-Pas de Calais, France, Norte Portugal, Nord-Est Romania and West-Vlaanderen, Belgium), but more than ten further regions are in the process of getting affiliated with RegioTex. Moreover, the initiative will remain open for all EU regions with an interest in supporting textile-related innovation.
At the conference mission and objectives of RegioTex were discussed and a future action plan was presented. The European Commission’s DG Regional Policy reminded participants about the rationale of the EU Smart Specialisation Policies and the specific regional research and innovation strategies is should support, especially the objective of industrial modernisation was highlighted.
Michiel Scheffer, the hosting Committee of the Regions member and Gedeputeerde (regional minister) for Economy, Education and Europe of the Dutch Gelderland province remarked “Textile innovation today spans virtually all sectors and markets and even in regions which traditionally did not have a strong presence of the textile and clothing sector you can find many surprising examples of industrial application of advanced fibre-based materials, high-tech textile manufacturing processes or fashion-inspired creativity. This creates ample opportunity for textile innovation to be linked to Smart Specialisation strategies in many regions, but also an obligation for textile innovation stakeholders to better organize themselves and clearly articulate their research and innovation potential to regional authorities”
Francesco Marchi, Director General of EURATEX in summarising the development of Europe’s textile and clothing sector in the last years stated “From the depths of the financial and economic crisis in 2009 we have seen a remarkable transformation and re-emergence of this sector across Europe. Industrial turnover has stabilised in the EUR 160-170 billion range, productivity and exports outside Europe have steadily grown and in 2015 we have even witnessed, for the first time in many years, a small increase of total employment in this industry currently counting some 1.7 million people.”
Carlos Neves, Vice-President of the CCDRN, the Development Agency of Portugal’s Norte region, representing Europe’s biggest individual textile and clothing manufacturing region with about 100000 sectoral jobs highlighted “Culture, Creativity and Fashion industries as well as Advanced Manufacturing Technologies are at the heart of our Smart Specialisation Strategy RIS3 Norte. We have a strong higher education system and many excellent research and sectoral technology infrastructures which we combine in a strong quadruple helix with our innovative, export-oriented industries such as textiles and clothing and the regional authorities to implement our operational programmes which span the entire spectrum from fundamental R&D up to first market introduction of innovative products and services.”
Textile ETP – the European Technology Platform for the Future of Textiles and Clothing is an experts network of all stakeholders involved in textile and clothing related research and innovation across Europe. Launched in 2004, the platform has grown into the largest Europen textile research and innovation network with over 750 members.
To learn more about the event and the RegioTex initiative, visit Textile ETP’s website: www.textile-platform.eu