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CITE – Circular Economy Innovative Initiative in Textiles for an Entrepreneurial Europe

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology has awarded a subsidy to support the CITE project, by Saxion University of Applied Sciences and various partners, in the framework of EIT’s Higher Education Institutions Initiative.

The project activities of CITE – Circular Economy Innovative Initiative in Textiles for an Entrepreneurial Europe – will contribute to developing an ecosystem for the sustainable textile industry in which entrepreneurship plays a central role. Students from various textile courses will be supported through this program to set up start-ups.

 

Project ambitions

These new start-ups are of great importance for the objectives of the European Union regarding sustainable textiles. The ecosystem contains joint programs in which Saxion UAS and all partners (RWTH Aachen, Hogeschool Gent, Vilnius University, Istanbul University and The European Technology Platform for the Future of Textiles and Clothing) contribute knowledge and expertise regarding textiles and entrepreneurship education. Saxion is working on the program from the Fashion & Textile Technologies study programme, the Sustainable & Functional Textiles research group and the Center for Entrepreneurship. Ultimately, the goal is to guide more than 100 teachers and 800 students, resulting in at least 50 new start-ups. In addition, existing (SME) companies are also helped in their transition to the circular economy, students work with them in the form of internships and graduation assignments and (SME) companies can contact the researchers and business developers for the design of innovative ideas and products.

 

Sustainable textiles in the European Union

From 2030, it will be required that at least 50% of all new textile products sold in the EU contain sustainable material, i.e. not from fossil raw materials like most synthetic fibres. In addition, 30% of all new textile products must also be made from recycled textiles. In Europe, all inhabitants throw away an average of 11 kilograms of textile products per year, of which only 5% is currently reused. According to the Waste Framework Directive, EU Member States are obliged to also have improved the collection and processing of textile waste by 2025. In addition to materials and waste, challenges such as simplifying the product passport for textile products, the release of microplastics during washing or the creating easy-to-recycle designs is important. Finally, startups within the textile industry can adopt themes such as gender equality and a safer working environment.

 

Role of teacher and student

The textile industry faces major challenges. The CITE  project focuses on stimulating entrepreneurship and innovation. By stimulating this, the aim is to improve and accelerate the transition to circular textiles. Lecturers from all participating knowledge institutions are supervised in their new role as business coaches, so that they can not only transfer knowledge about textiles to students, but can also guide these students in their entrepreneurship skills. Students who are already following the course are encouraged through workshops and training to see where and how they can use their knowledge when developing their own start-up. In order to allow the Eastern Netherlands region to also benefit from this ecosystem and to connect the start-ups to the region, the knowledge and expertise from Saxion UAS is exchanged with regional partners such as the Municipality of Enschede and the TexPlus foundation. The project started in July 2022 and has a duration of 2 years.

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