About 80 people supported the project with their ideas. © FKT
About 80 people supported the project with their ideas. © FKT

A strategy for the future: Perspectives 2035

Will carbon fibres be made of straw? Is textile concrete the future material? What position on the international market will the German textile producers and textile machine manufacturers have in the coming years? To find the answers to those and other questions, the Textile Research Board (FKT) and the Berlin Institute for Innovation and Technology (iit) conducted the study Perspectives 2035 to take a closer look at the future of the German textile research.

The project connects to the study Perspectives 2025 from the year 2012. That was the first time, the FKT had systematically scanned the future of textile research and textile industry. The Perspectives 2025 provided 133 ideas for textile-related utilization and 120 fields of application for textile materials. The new project reaches more further than that. Various methods had been combined, to analyse chances and risks for the textile economy extensively. With that, the textile industry created a unique data and knowledge pool, which allows profound conclusions to be drawn about the future development of textile markets.

The most important results of this 10-month project the FKT summarised in a short version of the study. It addresses representatives of the textile industry as well as decision-makers in politics, experts from other fields, journalists and the interested public.

The project

The two most important parts of the study Perspectives 2035 were, on one hand, the workshop-process, where many textile experts were engaged and, on the other hand, a very detailed database analysis. Both were completed by a survey of experts, who had to estimate the potential of future textile applications. Besides, the FKT and Niederrhein University organised a competition among students of textiles sciences. Using the theme "Entrepreneur of the future", they were supposed to develop business models as they would imagine them in the year 2035.

Bibliometric analysis of international research topics, © iit
Bibliometric analysis of international research topics, © iit

Database analysis

The iit - Institute for Innovation and Technology in Berlin conducted a text mining of the database Scopus, which was based on publications and conference contributions. The result allows a statement to be made about which textile topics are currently dealt with by national and international research particularly intensively.

To find out, which of those subjects had been particularly funded between 2010 and 2019, the project team analysed the database CORDIS by the European Union and the Federal Funding Catalogue (FÖKAT) additionally. 

Where could the global textile market be heading now and in the near future? To get a clue about that, one can orient at the alignment of startups. The amount of money, states use to fund their young enterprises, says something about that.

The participants work out ways into the textile future. © FKT
The participants work out ways into the textile future. © FKT

The workshops

To get as many expert's opinions as possible to develop the study, the FKT and the iit organised 5 workshops in 5 different German cities in the summer of 2019. About 80 people in total were engaged in those events. 70 per cent of the participants came from the industry and 30 per cent were from the research institutes. They were asked to identify milestones and on the other hand challenges and obstacles for the future development of the textile industry in a process called Visual Roadmapping, developed by the iit.

Business models of the future

To give the study the little extra, more than 100 students were asked to draw their vision of textile enterprises in the year 2035. The business models created that way had been evaluated in competition and the best were awarded. The winners received an innovation to the Aachen-Dresden-Denkendorf International Textile Conference 2019 in Dresden. 

Read more about the survey:
Summerschool 2019

Lots of textile experts contributed with their knowledge. © FKT
Lots of textile experts contributed with their knowledge to the workshop. © FKT

The knowledge

To complete the workshop-process and the data analysis the team conducted an online survey. In November and December 2019, 55 experts from the textile industry gave their opinion about the market potential of 219 ideas and how and where textiles will be used in the future. Those ideas came from the study Perspectives 2025 as well as from the current workshop-process.

Conclusions
In summary, the study inspires the textile and neighbouring industries with loads of ideas and suggestions and provides an orientation guide on their way to the future for the next 15 years. The most important findings are summed up with 10 recommendations and demands in the "textile manifest":

1. Exposing the potential of new business models.
2. Be creative in developing new markets.
3. Create competitive advantages by reduced use of energy and resources.
4. Creating attractive working models for junior staff.
5. Shine with your own commitment regarding sustainability and social issues.
6. Accelerating standardising processes to develop new markets fast.
7. Develop industry-specific innovation and network platforms.
8. Networking with other branches and develop new application fields.
9. Pushing forward digitization and develop corresponding expertise.
10. Strengthen interdisciplinary applied research and preliminary research.