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Textile mass-personalisation and process-automation, integrating the textile value-chain to deliver scalable ‘Virtual Giga Factory’ production of biodegradable woven textiles.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - NaturalDyers (Textile mass-personalisation and process-automation, integrating the textile value-chain to deliver scalable ‘Virtual Giga Factory’ production of biodegradable woven textiles.)

Reporting period: 2018-10-01 to 2019-03-31

The project is focused on a web portal to collect worldwide players products and services to be divulged by folder catalogues.
The distribution of folder catalogues allows to identify the targets of users are using the web platform.
The alfa version we published needs to validate all customers segments so to plan the most suitable digital marketing. By working with ready and active players, we discovered an the most interesting segments related professionals and business users. The professional users are interested to work on their actual collections made on old chemical textile so to use an online digital customizer that enables to select new materials as yarns and colours.
The customers approach showed the need to offer complete database to all actors interested to evaluate the costs and the possible reports of configuration.
For this reason, the team worked on the web portal to identify the instruments and the services most suitable for each category of customers.
The feasibility study demonstrates the need to compare samples references with all actors, so to identify the most suitable way to proceed; this model of learning helped the team to create specific MVP to be tested on the market.
So, we created a custom CMS to enable the online personalization of woven textiles dedicated to business users; this approach validated the need to ensure preventive sampling to give to users a physical instrument to start working on online customizer.
The products and services we collected by hub services, are proposed in a specific tool composed by each player component as raw materials, plant fibres, natural pigments and agricultural wastes.
This method has to be compared on a SaaS formula we are working on; the next step planned by the core team, is focused on the organization of specific test productions so to divulge demo collections to be personalized by free users.
The freemium registered users are divided in:
- suppliers as farmers, spinners, dye-works and leathers to collect ready and available products
- providers as weavers and finishings to collect ready and active services
- stakeholders as textile designers to collect draws to be promoted on copyright
- stakeholders as converters to collect old chemical textiles to be reproduced in biodegradable ones by license service.
- business users interested in online personalization of woven textiles
- consumers who are interested in online personalization of lead products
The desicion has been made to continue with the project. A strategic approach and business plan for technological developemnt and go-to-market has been developed. The business plan envisaged 3 streams of work: 1) NDS SaaS platform development for the full market ready product, 2) integration with smart-farm technology for retting systems; 3) Digital loom integration through mechatronic weaving arm development. The immediate developement programme and initial go-to-market will focus on Stream 1, through a targeted and niche segmentation of the market defined for initial entry and optimised traction.

The following taks as defined in the original work plan were completed:
Description of work
Task 1: Market and Customer Analysis with risk assessment (M1 – M6). Detailed market research identifying all key actors, priority markets, market sizing, trends and segmentation. Identification of Serviceable Market and final obtainable market with 5-year projection. Detailed competitor analysis, benchmarking and customer surveys – determine market costs and final pricing. Identification of key market risks and mitigation plan.
Task 2: Marketing/Sales Strategy (M4-M5). Definition of the strategy for reaching the target international market, arousing customer´s and stakeholders’ interest in the innovative service, risk management and pricing strategy. A preliminary commercial expansion plan stating the steps to commercialise our solution taking into account above the risks, market analysis, swot, and technological analysis.
Task 3: Stakeholders engagement and evaluation (M2-M6). We will explore and contact potential stakeholders to reach exploitation agreements for development. This task will help to design an interviews’ agenda to be implemented within and beyond this project and arrange demonstration meetings for engaging potential partners. Our objective within SMEInst-Ph1 action is to arrange at least 12 meetings covering the different markets. We also plan to attend 2 major international events to further evaluate partnerships.
Task 4: Technology analysis and innovation roadmap (M3-M6). The Innovation strategy will be defined to meet the future market demands and adaptation to international market & regulations. 1) Short term Roadmap gathering adaptations needed based on the prior business models and internationalisation plan, 2) Medium/Long term Roadmap intended to include in the service and its viability study according with the mature of them. Technology risk assessment.
Task 5: Freedom to operate: IP, regulations, standards compliance and policies (M3-M6). SWOT analysis (i) External factors: analysis of macro-environmental and micro-environmental factors: new entrants, substitutes, competitive; (ii) Internal analysis: economic, financial, commercial, operational, R&D and human resource factors. Study of regulations, standards and IPR issues, especially artists rights and data privacy. An IPR protection strategy at a global level strategy will be developed, including knowledge protection (intangible assets, NDAs/legal protection, trade secrets, copyright…, registration of IP where possible e.g. algorithm in US), and strategies to protect against new entrants. Assess costs and provide FTO risk assessment. GDPR requirements.
Task 6: Operational, Technology and Financial requirements analysis (M2-M6). We will analyse and assess the operational (staff needs), technology (product design and scalability needs, interoperability. Staff needs and training requirements, facilities. Customer service and assurance needs. Identify Operational and Financial risks and mitigation strategies.
Task 7: Financial Projections & Funding Requirements (M5-M6). Financial analysis (investments need, business model and sales expectations) for 5-year business plan, including assessment of costs and projections, taking into account detailed market studies, technical and operational requirements. needs for a successful market launch, expansion and sustainability. Review of the key assumptions used for developing the financial projection as income sources, projected Innovation costs; employees projected each year and the investment in equipment/materials. Develop a profit and loss account for the first five years and the balance sheet and funding requirements.
The conventional textile industry is highly fragmented. There are many intermediaries between the retailer, designer and final manufacturer. There are many participants in the supply chain, from raw material providers for the yarn and dye (whether synthetic or natural) to the spinning-mills to produce yarns and the loom operators who load the yarns onto looms for weaving. In this complex arrangement the main competitors that have embraced digital production is in the domain of printed fabric as it is simple to take images and print them onto fabrics based on standard sizes and given range of base fabrics. However, the challenge that has not been exploited sufficiently is in the domain of Jacquard woven fabric, where the fabric is constructed from the base yarns in X and Y design format.
The main alternative for designers who want to create personalised fabric are to use small scale producers who offer low MOQ, however these are very costly. Additionally, technical skills are needed for the definition of the textile designs in digital format, uploading files to CAD systems to be read by digital looms or setup on mechanical looms. These are additional costs that can be simplified as ND delivers a user-friendly interface for modifying existing patterns, material and colours, removing the need for technicians for existing designs.
Only one US based company, WOVN (demonstration stage project) is offering a web platform for the personalisation of woven fabrics aimed at high-end designers. WOVN is not focusing on creation of a supply-chain ‘commons’ but deploys own proprietary digital value chain to create vertical integration of its own processes and staff based in the US. NaturalDyer is the only company that is delivering a global platform capable of involving actors along the value chain, providing a global inventory and catalogue of material and designs that can be used for production and delivery on a local level everywhere. ND makes possible the eco-efficient optimisation of the value chain by promoting local production and distribution, while managing the costs to offer the lowest cost options to the Customer.
The market for mass produced textile is saturated and the margins are very squeezed. Therefore, many designers are attracted to possibilities of mass-personalisation, which helps create their own market, working directly with their customers. Currently only the big brands can compete in the mass produced continuous design catalogues as they are able to control and connect all the actors in the value chain and demand agility on very low margins. The ability of ND to match the digital files with the active adhered looms to provide a large variety of designs means that large MOQ is not required and therefore the suppliers are able to offer an agile service working with smaller customers. This also frees many suppliers (looms, weavers and mills) from depending on the fast-retail market to amortise their investments and remain profitable. So, ND opens the door of the textile industry to a wide audience who are looking for smaller personalised and agile production, which they would not normally serve through the traditional routes.