SmartX says goodbye, but the European smart textiles community will go on
Recap of the Final SmartX Conference (April 20-21, 2022 Brussels)
It was a bittersweet moment for the SmartX consortium. After nearly three years of open calls for proposals, SME coaching sessions, monthly member webinars, and several in-person meetings (when the sanitary situation allowed), our community came together for the last time under the SmartX umbrella.
The Final SmartX Conference was held in Brussels, home of the European Commision that had provided funding for our programme (Horizon 2020, agreement No. 824825). We partnered with SmartX Coordinator Textile ETP for the two-day event (April 20-21, 2022 at the Thon Hotel Brussels City Centre). Day one focused on smart textile innovation, day two was Textile ETP’s 16th Annual Assembly (view photos).
Filled with activities, the in-person gathering was a great opportunity to:
- Meet authors of the SmartX funded and coached projects and view their prototypes;
- Hear presentations on smart textile innovation and market trends by thought leaders;
- Network with Europe’s top smart textile innovators during coffee breaks;
- Learn about our plans for growing the SmartX Community beyond 2022;
- Discover future EU funding opportunities for smart textiles research and innovation.
The conference opened with a welcome address by Ulla Engelmann from the European Commission’s Department of Growth, who spoke about the EU Innovation Ecosystem & Cluster Policy. It was followed by a presentation about EU Innovation Support by Daniel Gassmann from the European Innovation Council & SMEs Executive Agency.
After our EU guests, the morning sessions focused on the results of the SmartX programme (by SmartX Project Manager Judith Bosch, Textile ETP), cascade funding for smart textile SMEs, innovation and trends in microelectronics and IoT for wearables (Romano Hoofman, imec), plus cluster support for cross-sectoral SME innovation (by SmartX consortium member Ana Ribeiro of the Portuguese Textile Cluster). All very relevant topics for our 170 attendees present in Brussels.
Following the panel discussion and networking lunch, the afternoon breakout sessions focused on pitches from our programme winners. The SMEs were divided into two groups: (1) those developing solutions for medical and well-being applications, and (2) those focused on sport, personal protection, and industrial applications.
A memorable moment was the live demonstration of Motorcycle Airbag Jeans, which are designed to inflate on impact and protect the rider from serious injuries. Luckily, the simulation did not involve an actual motorcycle crash! It was, however, a great segue to the coffee break that followed, which included lively conversation between attendees about the smart textile prototypes on display.
The closing plenary session was dedicated to “Lessons learned & way forward.” It included expert presentations from SmartX consortium partners/coaches on such timely topics as SME self-assessment tools (Virginie Canart, EuraMaterials), the Smart Textiles Manufacturing Value Chain (Heiko Matheis, DITF), and key challenges of bringing smart textiles to market (Dr. Daniela Zavec, Titera). SmartX Program Coordinator Lutz Walter (Textile ETP) provided the final words and assured all the attendees that the community will go on.
Please refer to the programme (image above) for a full list of speakers.
The future of the SmartX community
Even though the official SmartX programme concluded at the conference, the community we have built over the past three years is here to stay! Our online platform will remain fully operational beyond May 2022 as part of Textile ETP, who’s been the SmartX Coordinator and project guide since the beginning.
Make sure to register on our website and connect with those who count for the future of European smart textiles. We currently have over 800 members, who are active in manufacturing of textiles and electronics, design and development, manufacturing technology, research, consulting, software and IT services.
As we said and tweeted in Brussels, #SmartX4ever!