In the year 1975 more than half (56 %) of what Vorarlberg’s industry produced, were textiles and clothing. 40 years later this share is reduced down to 8 %, but the region’s texile specialists receive international recognition again. With great ideas, revolutioniary products and an invincible innovation network they create and use innovation potentials.
Strong Textile Network
The Smart Textiles Platform Austria with ist centre in Vorarlberg is a worldwide unique merger of textile companies, whose competences cover all steps of the textile value chain. Besides initiating cooperative projects and opening up funding of national and international agencies, the platform promotes cross-border technology transfers, for example in form of a textile symposium or the leading trade fair SALTEX. Furthermore it stimulates an intense cooperation between textile companies as well as with other industries.
The Smart Textiles Platform aims at developing new solutions and products by using technical textiles. In order to restrict this extensive field, the focus now lies on smart textiles, sensor textiles, wearables and light weight construction. All the knowhow concentrated in Vorarlberg helps to efficiantly and effectively produce textile composites for example.
Another important success factor of the platform are the scientific partners, that engage in textile innovations. The Research Institute for Textile Chemistry and Textile Physics of the University of Innsbruck is located in Dornbirn (Vorarlberg). Its 25 researchers from all over the world work with projects covering fundamental research, experimental and applied development.
Many research projects of the Institute, that is managed by Prof. Thomas Bechtold, lead to commercial products as well as processes and support the local economy. Within the scope of cooperation projects with companies the Institute also opens up substantial funds for Vorarlberg, for example 450,000 € funds for the development of sports textiles, 180,000 € funds for research covering textile concrete and 174,000 € funds for the development of sensor bedding. Alltogether more than 10 million euro of funds have been brought to Vorarlberg for textile innovations in the past years.
With an awarded endowment professorship the Institute has extended its field of action and got an additional research group. Since 2016 Prof. Tung Pham and his team conduct research in the field of Advanced Manufacturing by combining textile research, material and polymer sciences. They precisely work at production methods for smart and technical textiles for the next five years.
New Competence Centre
In July 2017 also the Textile Competence Centre Vorarlberg (TCCV) has started its work. The project, which was also applied for by the Research Institute of Textile Chemistry and Textile Physics, aims at establishing an own competence centre.
With leading edge research in the field of smart textiles the TCCV wants to achieve an international reputation and promote the branch. The applications of smart textiles are extensive. They, for example, lie in the medical or health sector, where smart textiles can monitor tissue repair processes or transfer heart rates in a way that is more comfortable for the patient than traditional procedures. The research results enable access to new applications for high-tech materials, that strenghtens the Austrian textile industry within international competition and therefore also secures textile jobs in Austria.
Other relevant partners and supporters of the platform are the research centre V-Trion, the expert group embroidery of Vorarlberg’s Chamber of Commerce, Wirtschafts-Standort Vorarlberg (WISTO), Vorarlberg’s government and the many involved companies, such as Schoeller Textile, Alge Elastic and Huber Holding. With the infrastructure, that is available in the region, as well as the knowledge, how to use it, Vorarlberg has the talent to realise impressive innovations.
From research to product
Internationally the Smart Textiles Platform Austria is seen as best practice model for innovation networks and is invited to conferences and exchanges worldwide. Besides the numerous product innovations and awarded funds the success is also shown in the start-up Texible. This young company, which is managed by Thomas Fröis, transfered the network’s idea for sensor bedding into a market-ready product and also offers help to other founders with its knowledge of integrating sensors and conductive materials into textile structures.