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Textiles for Ageing Society

Periodic Report Summary 3 - TAGS (Textiles for Ageing Society)

Project Context and Objectives:
The fundamental goal of the TAGS project is to improve the state of current textile solutions for age associated problems, or initiate the innovation of new textile based products in the field of elderly care concentrating in the areas of bedding, clothing, hygiene, and therapy. This is achieved through the building of a consortium which brings together the elderly, social and medical care institutions, research institutions, textile and materials technology transfer institutions and industrial manufacturers. The consortium will be able to help to identify and bring together: the specific requirements of the elderly and care institutions, and the latest developments in materials science and technology that will help meet these requirements, including strategies to incorporate developments in the manufacturing chain and approaches to bring products to market.
TAGS has the following objectives:
• Identify new materials, production techniques, and technologies, based on demands and requirements formulated by end-users and industry that can improve the performance of textile products for the elderly.
• Assess the scope, boundary conditions for innovation, and identify barriers preventing progress.
• Set up systems for active discussion and dissemination of information between partners, and provide public with access to general information.
• Generate new joint and collaborative concepts, initiate joint research activities.
• Identify standards, specifications for products and formulate recommendations for policy makers.

An important component is to increase the communication and understanding between stakeholders concerned with the development and use of ‘textiles for an ageing society’. By bridging the gaps that exist between research organisations, industry/manufacturing and the end-users, the challenges faced by Europe’s ageing population can be more clearly identified and addressed thus building a truly multidisciplinary team with experience to tackle further challenges. With this in mind, the project partners who have committed to the TAGS project cover a range of backgrounds each with a unique perspective of the challenges faced. Partners in the consortium are as follows.

1. UIBK - Universitaet Innsbruck - Austria - University - Textile chemistry and physics
2. TITK - Thüringisches Institut für Textil- und Kunststoff-Forschung e.V. - Germany - Research institute - Polymer science and production
3. NIRI - Nonwovens Innovation & Research Institute Ltd. - UK - SME - Research institute in the area of nonwovens
4. WARMX - WarmX - Germany - SME - Knitted structures and manufacturing
5. TEXVER - Textilverein – Registered Association of Textile SMEs - Austria - Non-profit - Knowledge transfer and textile manufacturing network
6. STAFF - Staff Jersey - Italy - SME - Knitted structures and manufacturing
7. CONN - Connexia – Gesellschaft für Gesundheit und Pflege gem. GmbH - Austria - End-user - Health and social care providers
8. KHBG - Vorarlberger Krankenhaus-Betriebsgesellschaft m.b.H - Austria - End-user - Health and social care providers
9. ANS - Anziani E Non Solo Società Cooperativa - Italy - End-user - Health and social care providers
10. DCS - Democentersipe - Italy - SME - Innovation and technology transfer organisation

Project Results:
To date, TAGS has completed research in the areas of bedding, clothing, hygiene and therapeutic textiles. Information on each topic has been collected using the following methods: a literature review to gain a broad understanding of existing and emerging technologies; analysis of sales and market opportunities; questionnaire and semi-structured interviews with care home staff, relatives and end-users.
Project meetings were held bi-annually over the course of the project that were attended by consortium members and invited external experts. These meetings included lectures from external experts from their area of expertise and brainstorming sessions and discussion rounds for each project topic. An outcome of the project meetings is the creation of true multi-disciplinary relationships that will endeavour to build new research teams and to further the development of new ideas generated.
As part of each meeting, visits to consortium partners and visits to companies outside the consortium served as a basis for increasing the diffusion of knowledge between consortium, partners on areas and issues which were previously unknown to them, which has been instrumental in shaping new project ideas.

Potential Impact:
Textiles are an integral part of everyday life and are usually taken for granted, however they have a huge potential to support daily activities, and often the consumer does not realise their importance.
The impact of the project is expected to reach a wide audience ranging from end-users through to manufacturers in order to highlight how textiles can benefit or aid independence and quality of life through innovation.

At the level of End-Users
• The project will offer a platform for end-users to convey their desires and requirements.
• End-users will obtain direct information on the state-of-art in the development of new products, their opportunities and risks.
• Awareness about needs of the elderly, who represent a big share of EU people, will increase among the scientific community and manufacturers.
• Demands of end-users on textiles will be recognised and psychological preventing innovation will be overcome.
• There will be significant contribution to the improvement of the quality of lives for the elderly and also of the working practices of the care-givers.
• Caregivers will gain better understanding of materials they use which will lead to their improved competence in given field.
• Effective protection and health care for Europe’s citizens will improve.

At the level of Industry
• Industry will benefit from access to scientific experts, graduates and technicians, state-of-the art, research and development facilities in academia.
• Exploitation of new materials will help to develop new products based on the requirements of ageing people, overcoming of European paradox.
• Manufacturers will have direct access to the requirements of end-users.
• Opportunities will be created to develop with end-users a mutually understandable set of definitions and specifications of quality and performance.
• Initiation of joint activities will lead to new competitive products and will open new markets for the industry.
• New areas of textile application will open.
• By offering solutions, the ability of European enterprises to compete in the global marketplace will foster.
• Establishment of new contacts and co-operations, strengthening of exiting innovation networks will be supported.
• Technology sharing and licensing will be promoted.
• Project web page will act as a source of information from experts in the field of textiles and clothing for ageing people and supply European researchers, manufacturers, and policy makers with easily accessible information on new materials for application in textiles for the elderly.
• New business opportunities will be promoted through sharing of knowledge not only between industrial, research and end-user sector, but also between EU member states.

At the level of Research and Technology Transfer Institutions
• They will be recognised as experts in the field of materials and products for an ageing society.
• Improved access to the development and marketing concept, and business information.
• Better identification of socio-economic imperatives to guide research.
• Development of new research activities.
• Establishment of the stable network between partners, fostering mutual trust, strengthening of their competence in a given field.
• Increase attractiveness of universities for industrial collaborations.
• Weaken borders between academia and industry.

At European level
• The activity of the project will boost development in the field of products for ageing society. Skills and creativity of Europe will become broader.
• The consortium will demonstrate examples of active cooperation which will initiate other institutions to follow.
• Active work in the field of textiles for an ageing society will demonstrate the capability of European countries to enhance quality of European citizens.
• Initiation of new product development and product design will strengthen European industrial competitiveness.

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