News & Insights | Textile Technology

Innovation Forum Draws to a Close with Key Message: Innovation Remains Essential to Ensure Nonwovens Are Future Fit

Published: June 12, 2024

Last week, the EDANA Innovation Forum, a new event formed from an amalgamation of the International Nonwovens Symposium (INS) and the Nonwovens Innovation Academy (NIA), was held in Munich, Germany. This one-of-a-kind new event drew in over 110 participants from 78 companies and 22 countries, making it a truly global gathering.

“Our aim was to create a platform for the nonwovens community to explore the latest technical innovations and gain insights from external speakers and start-ups. I’m delighted to share that, based on the positive feedback we’ve received, we successfully accomplished this goal,” expressed Murat Dogru, EDANA’s General Manager. “The success of this inaugural edition is a testament to the active participation and valuable contributions of all the attendees and speakers. Your engagement and ideas enriched this experience, fostering new collaborations and inspiring innovative thinking.”

The programme was split into three sessions covering innovation in nonwovens applications, technology, and material solutions. It also featured roundtable discussions, startup presentations, and two keynotes on why innovation fails and how to create the future with success and succeed in innovation principles. The third day concluded with a visit to the Urban Colab facility innovation hub.

Featuring over 20 speakers across three days, the presentations addressed topics such as the increased use of cellulosic fibres in hygiene products, particularly wipes, cellulose-based thermoformable durables, and the use of nano fibrillated cellulose to improve the performance and footprint of nonwovens in composites. There were also papers on improving polyolefins’ carbon footprint, additives’ developments, and processing PP/PLA bico fibres.

In the roundtable sessions, experts from Dupont and Freudenberg shared valuable insights with the audience on their respective innovation strategies and how these companies have kept their products – Evelon and Tyvek – future-fit. Following their introductions, the presenters moderated roundtable discussions, inviting participants to share their experiences.

Overall takeaways from this motivational programme included:

  • Innovation is a crucial part of staying relevant and ensuring your company is future fit.
  • Nonwovens products and services serve a functional need for society, but how that need is met has evolved over time due to sustainability and other considerations. Despite this, innovation remains essential to ensure that our industry can continue to fulfil its purpose.
  • The keynote speeches shared valuable lessons on the need for incremental innovation rather than ‘new’ (adjacent) and disruptive innovations. This message was further emphasised during the visit to Unternehmertum an innovation hub in Munich.

The Innovation Forum is not the only new offering in EDANA’s event calendar. Last year, EDANA successfully organised the first edition of its Sustainability Forum. These two events were carefully conceived and crafted to complement each other. Sustainability is at the heart of everything we do today, from consumer purchasing choices to policy making, but it is also a key driver for innovation.

“This first edition of the EDANA Innovation Forum provided a clear insight on how to position it relative to the EDANA Sustainability Forum,” explained Marines Lagemaat, EDANA’s Scientific & Technical Affairs Director. Behind the scenes, he played a key role alongside EDANA’s event team in shaping the Innovation Forum and its programme.

“It is true these days that innovation often focuses on improving the sustainability profile of existing products, making the two fora interrelated. However, they are designed to serve different audiences. The Sustainability Forum provides insights on the regulatory and product stewardship perspectives of sustainability, while the Innovation Forum addresses the technical work needed to meet those changing expectations,” added Marines.

Initial feedback from the attendees echoed this outlook and the need for this event:

“The event focused on nonwovens innovation, where we heard impressive talks from industry experts about new directions and technology. The gathering was an invaluable opportunity for networking, learning and envisioning the future of nonwovens. As we continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible, events like these are crucial for sparking the ideas that will shape our industry’s products and solutions. Exciting times are ahead of us!” shared Lancelot Woolley, Global R&D Director, Fibertex Nonwovens.

“What I really like is that people are coming from all over Europe and beyond to share their expertise, research, insights, and best practices for the nonwovens market. They share this valuable information with each other, so you can really see open innovation in action happening right here at the event,” said Joachim De Vos, Co-chair & Managing Partner, Living Tomorrow, TomorrowLab and one of the keynote speakers at the forum.

“It’s been great engaging with many contacts in the whole nonwovens value chain. The set-up of the programme and presentations was very diverse, allowing interesting discussions and follow-up possibilities,” explained Danielle Van Horzen, Senior Business manager, PH Marketing, Sabic.

“The content of the presentations was very well selected; however, what makes EDANA events come to life are the motivational and inspirational people that participate. One of my highlights was the start-up pitches, where I was able to connect with three of the entrepreneurs to offer help or maybe even start projects with. I’m looking forward to the next edition already!” noted Bernhard Awolin, a business consultant and speaker at the conference.

Looking to the future, the innovation forum will feature again in EDANA’s event calendar for 2025. “Based on experience obtained during this first edition of the EDANA Innovation forum and the overwhelming positive feedback we received from participants during the event, we are convinced that next year’s edition will be even better, with a rich programme, both in terms of content and format, to engage the industry in the best possible way,” revealed Marines.

“I’m excited about the future possibilities these discussions and innovations will bring to our industry. Thank you once again for your support in making this first edition of the EDANA Innovation Forum a remarkable milestone,” concluded Murat.

In the meantime, EDANA’s event team will be hard at work organising the second edition of EDANA’s Sustainability Forum. Registration will open this week. This event will feature as part of a sustainability week in Brussels in early November. This new week will allow participants to maximise their time in Brussels with exclusive opportunities to engage in and benefit from EDANA’s entire sustainability offering, including attending in-person training courses normally delivered online. More information is coming soon. Visit the EDANA website to stay informed of the latest updates.

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