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Disruptive Technology for the Global Laundry Equipment Market

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - LIRON-2020 (Disruptive Technology for the Global Laundry Equipment Market)

Reporting period: 2014-10-01 to 2015-03-31

LIRON-2020 has addressed the feasibility of highly novel, hand-held cleaning technology (LIRON™) to disrupt the €37.6 billion global market for laundry equipment. LIRON technology will benefit consumers and the environment through reduced energy and water consumption, extending the lifetime of washing machines, extending lifetime of garments and reducing the time that people need to spend on the laundry process.

The project set out with the overall objectives of;

-i- Validating LIRON technology with commercial laundry samples
-ii- Assessing the market for LIRON within the domestic laundry market
-iii- Expanding the IP portfolio for LIRON technology and applications
-iv- Establishing the business expansion strategy to exploit LIRON technology
With respect to the overall project objectives;

-i- Technology validation trials of LIRON technology have demonstrated that many types of contaminant can be removed from cotton and poly-cotton fabrics most commonly used within clothing. A major achievement has been the removal of highly-stubborn stains that have survived several high temperature wash cycles. Further work is still required in order that the process can be optimised, but the general concept has been further validated within the LIRON-2020 project.

-ii- Analysis of the Global market has been carried out. For laundry appliances, the market amounts to more than 120 Million units per year (€37.6 Billion), with an additional 104 million steam irons (€3.1 Billion) utilised within global domestic laundry care. Growth of these markets is on average less than 1%, dominated by replacement sales. However, as disposable income increases, many customers in Europe look to purchase more expensive, higher-performance products with specific targets of; reducing energy and water consumption, improved garment care and reducing the time and effort involved in the laundry process.

In addition, a new disruptive laundry technology such as LIRON, will have an associated laundry care market, having LIRON-specific detergents, stain removers and other care products.
The parallel laundry care market (detergents, fabric conditioners, stain removers etc) is an enormous €59.9 Billion and is forecast to reach €66.3Billion by 2019. LIRON has potential to leverage significant share of this highly profitable laundry-care market.

-iii- Within LIRON-2020, two worldwide families of patents have been filed for LIRON technology and are currently being prosecuted through the US patent office, European patent office and through the Patent Co-operation Treaty (PCT). Initial searches have identified that claims are novel and patentable and these patents will continue to be prosecuted to gain strong IPR coverage across the world; a strong base for commercial exploitation of the technology. Claims relate both to the fundamentals of the LIRON technology as well as methods and associated laundry care products, providing a basis on which to produce an expansive IP portfolio for the technology.

-iv-LIRON-2020 activity has highlighted what needs to be done to best exploit the potential of LIRON technology through continued investment and industrial partnership.
LIRON-2020 has established that the technology has a high potential to disrupt the global laundry-appliance and laundry care markets.

LIRON is not intended to be a replacement for the washing machine but is an alternative, high-end iron that assists with laundry, improving consumer lifestyles and reducing the number of washes; extending washing machine lifetime.
LIRON can have a similar penetration into the market as steam generator irons have over recent years – 25-30% market share in Europe and N.America. The total accessible market is therefore estimated at between 10-15 million units per year and up to €2 Billion revenue.

The project will therefore be pursued further but, despite excellent process trials, successful exploitation of LIRON technology will require significant investment in optimising the process, developing a LIRON product and the associated high-volume manufacture and finally, reaching out to a global market.
LIRON-2020 achievements have laid an excellent foundation but partnership with established companies, both in the laundry appliance and laundry care sectors is required in the longer term.

During LIRON-2020, the process of finding partners has begun but this needs to be expanded in order that LIRON-2020 progress continues with strong momentum.