Supporting the fabric of industry

The University of Manchester’s William Lee Innovation Centre (WLIC) has been awarded £4 million to help boost the UK textiles industry. The money, from the EU’s European Social Fund, will be used to launch a new project aimed at helping the UK textiles industry regain its competitive edge over foreign markets.



The Knowledge 4 Innovation (K4I) project will seek to address the structural and economic impact of high-volume production overseas through technology and innovation.



K4I will focus on equipping SMEs with the skills and knowledge needed to help them utilise new technologies. It will also seek to develop a host of niche textile technologies for use in the medical, automotive and sports industries.



Dr Tilak Dias, Head of the WLIC, said, “Textiles businesses now need to focus on functionality and innovation, rather than price in order to compete. This project will seek to instil the knowledge and skills SMEs need to seize new opportunities in global markets through technology and innovation.”



Work has already begun on a number of projects which include the development of electronic fabrics and the pioneering Scan2Knit system.



Scan2Knit is a medical system that makes made-to-measure compression stockings. It will be used to treat patients suffering from venous diseases such as leg ulcers and may be used to prevent deep vein thrombosis. The system uses a 3D limb scanner to measure the lower leg and foot. This information is then transmitted to a dedicated electronic knitting machine which produces a bespoke stocking.




K4I will also develop training micro-modules and a digital web portal of multidisciplinary material which will act as a knowledge bank for the SME textiles companies. The project will also support textile SMEs by mentoring them through the technology innovation process.