Each of these projects will focus on a specific product and a related part of the value chain for Smart Textiles. It could for example be a novel integrated sensor monitoring breath rate in underwear, a modified machine for stitching LED-fibres into protective clothing, a new energy harvesting fibre in industrial containers, or a new service for context-sensitive adaptation of heating textiles of sportsmen. Such Trailblazer projects combine a set of disciplines, regions and/or cultures for the first time, thus following the true meaning of a Trailblazer: making a new path. They will serve as flagships, i.e. high-level showcases.
Independent external experts will select the most promising cross-sectoral, cross-cultural and cross-regional innovation actions via an open call system. The projects will be supported from start to end via the SmartX Coaching Approach covering all relevant multidisciplinary aspects and delivered by specially trained cluster managers.
SmartX will select and nurture them to maturity. This ‘nurturing’ and coaching involves two main aspects: (i) ensuring the SMEs have the necessary innovation capability (technical, managerial and cultural) and (ii) focussing on rapid innovation deployment and manufacturing scale up in a complete value chain. For this impact, the second item on innovation deployment and scale up’ is crucial. Therefore SmartX will
- Scan and promote specific SME dedicated instruments that focus on ‘taking-to-market’ and ‘scale-up’.
- Manage funding expectations. When it comes to funding opportunities SMEs are often lost (too pessimistic because of ‘jungle of options’, too much ‘red tape’)and/or blinded (too optimistic on grant amounts).
- Identify opportunities for obtaining investment and establish and reinforce links towards these players, e.g. regional public investment funds, venture capital, commercial banks, crowd funding,… Goal is to involve these also in the value chain. Via the link with REGIOTEX we will leverage ESIF funding and the link to the DeFINE project will ensure a link of SmartX to the emerging European a network of incubators, accelerators & venture capitalists dedicated to smart textiles.
We’ll help them find the best suited type of funding. We will apply the ‘subsidiarity principle’, i.e. look first for local/regional funding, then for inter-regional options and only if there is really a high profile European impact, we will advise the (highly competitive) European options. Further, we will stimulate the use of venture capital, the in EU all too often forgotten option next to grants and bank loans.
Within the consortium we have key partners who are very experienced in innovation deployment and related funding possibilities. In this respect the Textile ETP can play a key role as well as all the clusters partners.