As part of the series on the Materials Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN), Brian McCarthy, Director of the TechniTex Faraday, gives an overview of his organisation and its role within the network.
Manufacturing continues to be of key importance to the UK. For example, the overall UK textile and clothing manufacturing sector has an annual turnover (end 2004) of £10.290 billion (£3.492 billion for apparel and £6.797 billion for textiles). The sector employs some 145,000 people (53,000 in apparel and 91,000 in textiles).
The primary UK technical textiles sector employs some 17,000 personnel across 350 companies, the majority of which are SMEs, with an annual turnover of some £1.1 billion. Technical textiles are innovative and often developed according to the needs of the end-user. For example, conductive and 3D textiles find increasing use in mechanical engineering. Similarly, surgical gowns, bandages, plasters and filters in the healthcare industry, as well as fishing nets, woven and non-woven covers for crops in agriculture also fall under the purview of technical textiles. The global market is estimated at some US$107 billion, and is still growing.
TechniTex Faraday has been established as a not-for-profit organisation arising from the original TechniTex Faraday Partnership. It has a strong industry-led Board with Lord Haskel as Honorary Chairman. It currently fields six people operating across the UK, with its headquarters in Manchester. TechniTex works with a network of some 39 UK Universities and 43 leading UK technology providers. It has a dedicated working database of over 1,200 organisations. Full details of the membership scheme are available from the organisation's website.
TechniTex is involved in the following areas -
- Helping companies
TechniTex helps UK companies innovate and increase turnover by creating links within the supply chain and with the UK science base. The organisation is particularly keen to be associated with, and involved in, the creation of spin-off and spin-out start-up companies in the areas of textiles and clothing. Examples of such enterprises include Telutami, DCS, Fibre Devices Ltd and TexEng Software Ltd. TechniTex offers regular email alerts and e-Newsletters.
A series of dedicated and collaborative events has been arranged to maximise networking and partnership opportunities. Links have been developed with the sector trade bodies including BATC, PTA and TTE. Technical information, job enquiries and commercial items are circulated regularly. TechniTex has recently strengthened its links with the DTI GlobalWatch International Technology Promotors and is planning a number of international missions. Existing road-maps will also be updated with industrial participation.
- Intelligent sign-posting
TechniTex now offers a dedicated intelligent sign-posting service backed by the skills of the other KTN nodes and supported by the software provided by the Materials KTN website. The service includes access to EU and UK R&D programmes and business-to-business opportunities.
- Technology translation and transfer
TechniTex provides in-company assistance to adopt and adapt technologies that are novel or have been transferred from other sectors. The organisation cultivates links with regional development agencies and related KTNs. TechniTex has recently produced an awareness pack covering nanotechnology for the textiles and clothing sectors. The organisation also provides links to dedicated facilities, such as Nanoforce at Queen Mary, University of London.
The team is looking forward to working closely with their colleagues within the Materials KTN, especially in the important and rapidly growing market for composites, where 3D textile construction and modelling will be of key importance.