Collaboration and innovation at Innovate 2021

World Textile Information Network’s (WTiN) live virtual event, Innovate 2021: Textile Innovation Week, along with the Innovate Summit, has been hailed a great success by innovators, exhibitors and visitors across the globe. The live event has drawn to a close but the online Innovate platform remains open for visitors to enjoy the large variety of rich content produced by exhibitors and host WTiN, during the show.
The event, which took place from 25 to 29 October, saw over 60 exhibitors and almost 10,000 visitors over the week – higher than last year’s Innovate at the height of the pandemic.
Live streams were hosted throughout the week, which included product demonstrations, technical presentations and seminars – with over 15,000 participations. All are available to watch until the end of November.
Innovate connected textile innovators across the globe, and visitors had the opportunity to review the exhibitors’ most innovative products and have their say by rating them from Interesting to Revolutionary. Makalot Industrial’s WIIM Pro Sports: EMS was the highest rated innovation in the Hub, followed by DuPont™ Artistri® XITE P2700 pigment inkjet inks and Velcro’s patented VELCRO® Brand SLEEK & THIN™ Fastener.
For more on any of these innovations and other exciting innovations in the Hub, you can still visit Innovate Hub | Innovate | Textile Innovation Week ( until 30 November.
WTiN’s Innovate Pioneer certificate has been awarded for entries to the Hub that received the highest ratings.
Congratulations to this year’s Innovate Pioneers:
 Andersn Enterprises Ltd
 Beaver Paper Group
 Canapa Paper Technologies
 Colorobbia España
 DuPont
 Evonik Operations GmbH
 General Silicones
 Kornit Digital
 Makalot Industrial
 Ricoh Company Limited
 Roland DG
 Velcro Europe, S.A.

The event’s exciting exhibitor list included Ricoh (Event sponsor), Epson (Summit sponsor), Sun Chemical, DuPont, AFFOA, ITMA, Oerlikon, Velcro, Polygiene, Evonik, Kornit Digital, Lubrizol, Dornbirn GCF, Colorjet, BenQ Materials, Taiwan Textile Federation, Loris Bellini, Roland DG, and many more.
Show sponsor Ricoh said during the show that the company was so happy that “[the WTiN] team will get an open invitation for Christmas dinner!”
Friedrich Weninger, managing director of exhibitor Dornbirn Global Fiber Congress, said: “It is a great show and the potentials in terms of contacts one could explore are excellent.”
Mike Wang, Specialist at Innovate Exhibitor, Taiwan Textile Federation (TTF), said: “We heard great feedback from our exhibitors regarding how WTiN had invited diverse visitors from the technology industry to participate in this great exhibition.
“Once again, thank you and we look forward to joining your wonderful event next time.”
The show also saw a number of launches and announcements. For example, Ricoh announced its partnership with direct-to-garment (DTG) printing OEM specialist Aeoon Technologies at the event. The partnership, according to the companies, aims to bring solutions to the market that actively supports digital print service providers with modular growth strategies. It will allow Ricoh the opportunity to extend its DTG offering into higher productivity market segments and further demonstrate a focus on sustainability and cost-efficiency, Ricoh says.
What’s more, ink specialist Sun Chemical launched its Xennia® Pearl pigment inks for high-speed industrial applications at Innovate 2021. The range, which includes inks for both mid-viscosity and high-viscosity print heads, has been developed following a careful assessment of the market and specific customer needs, particularly the requirement for high fastness, multi-substrate compatibility, consistent colour, and outstanding print performance.
[Sub-head] Innovate Summit
A highlight of Textile Innovation Week was the Summit – which across the week saw almost 3,500 attendees. The virtual event saw live keynote presentations, panel sessions, fireside chats and Q&As with some of the industry’s major players such as EURATEX, China’s National Textile & Apparel Council and the World Economic Forum, to name a few.
Throughout the conference a number of themes came to the fore. These included sustainability, collaboration, the industry’s struggle with the skills gap, supply chain issues and government policy.
• Sustainability
A recurring theme throughout the textile & apparel industry, sustainability was a primary topic of conversation through the Summit. Delegates heard a keynote presentation from Xu Yingxin, vice president, China National Textile & Apparel Council on how China’s textile & apparel sector aims to mitigate climate change. For European policy, we heard from Dirk Vantyghem, director general, EURATEX, who discussed a new more sustainable framework for the European textile & apparel industry. On the third and final day of the event, a panel of materials specialists (for both man-made and natural fibres), hosted by Friedrich Weninger, managing director, Dornbirn Global Fiber Congress discussed the desperate need for enhanced sustainability in the fibres market arguing that this must come from putting differences and competition aside and collaborating.
• Collaboration
In fact, collaboration was discussed as a necessity for a more sustainable textile & apparel industry by many at the Summit. Not only that but necessary for future innovation, too. For example, Leeds City Region in the UK and India are collaborating to ensure greater innovation throughout the textile & apparel industry, as well as in a bid to close the growing skills gap. What’s more, a fireside chat from supply chain technology company QIMA discussed how data and transparency are key to futureproofing supply chains but also, that supplier and buyer relationships are becoming more entrenched. The discussion concluded that we must work together to ensure our supply chains are streamlined and more able to handle disruption, such as that at the beginning of 2019 when the Covid pandemic broke out.

• Industry 4.0
Digitalisation, not surprisingly, was also a recurring theme. In particular, how Covid accelerated digitalisation was assessed (for example, in a panel session hosted by the ITMF and others) as well as how it can help in futureproofing supply chains by providing tools for authentication – as discussed by Ian Cronin, Community Curator at the World Economic Forum – transparency and traceability. It is thought that digitising processes and technologies is enabling the movement of manufacturing back to developed economies and although there was hope among speakers that this movement remains strong, it is appreciated that these markets cannot compete with the backward linkages and manpower of China. Additionally, digitalisation, it was discussed, can be leveraged to improve sustainability strategies and supply chain resilience (as mentioned by Joshua Hinkel, partner, Bain & Company in a keynote presentation). However, digitalisation also means the industry requires a new set of skills.

• Skills gap

As well as part of addressing the need for collaboration, is collaborating to reduce the industry’s skills gap. The Summit showed that the skills gap is not just prevalent in the US and Europe as previously thought but is a global issue with large manufacturing nations such as India struggling to find the right skilled workers to meet the demands of the global textile & apparel industry. Every industry, from fibres to printing, is suffering from a skills gap. In particular, the nonwovens industry – as discussed in a panel session hosted by David Rousse, president, INDA is struggling to recruit new talent. This is despite the boom in the nonwovens market with the growth of medical applications for nonwovens and face masks since the outbreak of the pandemic. With the growing nearshoring trend across the industry, there is the worry that without action, there will be no-one to fulfil the roles, or spark innovation, in this movement.
All sessions from the Innovate Summit are available to live stream and download here: Summit Schedule | Innovate | Textile Innovation Week (
Mark Jarvis, managing director, WTiN, says: “Innovate 2021 has shown how fruitful and engaging live, virtual events can be. We are honoured to have had so many visitors to Innovate 2021 and importantly, so many fantastic exhibitors and speakers who have helped to make the platform the rich, engaging space it is today.
“This last week has made it clear that innovation is key for our industry to thrive – in all areas of the industry and we plan to do that with Innovate going forward. We are excited for the next Innovate chapter, to be announced soon.”
The event was sponsored by Ricoh and the Innovate Summit sponsored by Epson.
Innovate remains open until 30 November 2021. To view the content for yourself, visit:

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