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The British Fashion and Textile Technology (BFTT) research and development programme have awarded a further 1.1 million pounds to 13 small-to-medium-sized enterprises that place sustainability, innovation and social purpose at the heart of their business model.

This latest funding injection follows an initial 1.2 million pound investment in 10 of the UK’s top SMEs in 2020 and 500,000 pounds collaborative research funding across three additional BFTT BFTT projects. Together, these funds have raised approximately 2.8million pounds across 35 SMEs with at least 20 new jobs.

SME’s have been granted 1.1 million pounds in funding to help them innovate and pioneer sustainable developments. This includes surface finishing and natural dyeing, embedded traceability, high-value textile industry waste recycling, sensing technologies, healthcare, and non-woven textiles. They can also be able to on-board state-of the-art manufacturing and novel digital solutions.

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Grant recipients include Dash and Miller and Jessica Garvey Birch, Grady and Robinson and Phoebe English (partnership), Iinouiio and Keracol and Bulmer and Lumb, Kirsty McDougall and Nurvv, PlanetCare and Project Plan B, Virustatic and William Clark and Sons.

Each company was chosen from over 140 applicants and will receive a customized package of funding, academic expertise, and business support. All projects will be launched in autumn 2021 and last twelve to fifteen months.

Nikki Matthews is creative research and development programme manager. She said that she was thrilled to have 13 amazing companies join her in the R&D Program. Participants will benefit from multi-disciplinary and sectoral expertise to help accelerate the development of sustainable business models and processes. We have seen the impact that R&D can have on the businesses we work with since the first cohort of the Programme was funded in 2020.

British SME funding hits 2.8 Million Pounds through BFTT to support sustainable innovation

William Clark and Sons is one of the most important projects funded by the latest round. It is Ireland’s oldest living linen mill, founded in 1736. They are looking into eco and sustainable products that add stain-resistant properties.

A partnership project will also be offered by Dash and Miller, a woven textile studio, and Jessica Garvey Birch (a digital 3D development and design consultant on the Virtual Mill), to create a circular woven fabric using the fibre-up. This fabric can then be refined, tested, and displayed online. The fabric will be made available to the public via the virtual platform as a customizable woven textile. A single digital sample can be shared online to minimize waste.

Grady and Robinson will supply designers and brands with vegetable-tanned and sustainable finished leather that can be traced back to animals raised at UK ecological farms. In partnership with Phoebe English, an emerging British designer, Iinouiio is seeking to revive and develop British wool textile recycling in order to create new yarns.

Kirsty McDougall is a specialist in textile development and consultancy for couture clients in fashion and textiles. She will be focusing her efforts on the establishment of a dedicated laboratory for textile research that focuses on the continuous development of high-quality recycled textiles from fashion industry fabric. These textiles are market-relevant and highly desirable at a variety of price points.

Project Plan B is a B2B clothing business that designs, manufactures, and recycles clothing at its end of life in order to create circularity in garment design.

Jane Harris, BFTT program director, said: “Small- to Medium Enterprises (SMEs), are crucial to the economy, and critical to creative sector in particular. They make up more than 95% of all creative businesses in the UK. The BFTT R&D Programme aims to highlight the impact that SMEs can have on our sector and the economy when they are provided with the right kind of financial support as well as research expertise.

New UK textile manufacturing plants are established following BFTT funding

photography of white treadle on brown wooden rack

Three new manufacturing facilities have been opened in the UK, as well as physical services, since the award’s first round was given to ten textile and fashion businesses.

Anna Glover created a research-and-development service hub to provide printing services to industry as well as a resource and research service for students. Blackhorse Lane Atelier will open the UK’s first denim wash laboratory in 2022, allowing brands to offer a more sustainable product.

Tibor, a London-based creative weaving business, has also set up a micro mill service for small businesses. This will provide small-scale manufacturing for Jacquard or Dobby weaving, and produce sustainable textiles on commission. The Mill will be a resource for students and graduates to visit as well as employing graduates/apprentices.

The Business of Fashion, Textiles and Technology is a five year industry-led project that focuses upon delivering innovation throughout the entire fashion and textile supply chains. It is part the AHRC Creative Industry Clusters Program (CICP), which is funded by the UK Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. BFTT is hosted at University of the Arts London (UAL), with Loughborough University. University College London (UCL). Queen Mary University London (QMUL). University of Leeds. University of Cambridge and Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A).