University of the Arts London has been awarded one of nine game-changing R&D partnerships as part of the Government’s investment in the UK’s creative industries, under the banner of the flagship Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund initiative. Over the next five years, the Arts & Humanities Research Council’s Creative Industries Clusters Programme will strengthen the creative industries’ position as vital to UK economic growth and resilience, and provide direct links into shaping Government policy.
Simon Ofield-Kerr, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic, UAL said:
“At UAL we welcome this award as a vote of confidence in the value of creativity and strategic recognition of the vast social and economic benefits that our fashion and textiles industries generate for the UK. As a world-leader in creative knowledge exchange and research, UAL is proud to put these strengths to work with industry to deliver the innovation and business solutions that will accelerate growth and significant long-term development in this leading UK creative sector.”
The Business of Fashion, Textiles and Technology (BFTT) Creative R&D Partnership is one of nine clusters and one policy and evidence centre to be funded under the multi-million pound Creative Industries Cluster Programme. The five-year industry-led project will focus on delivering innovation within the entire fashion and textile supply chain, with special attention given to positioning industry as agents of new technology and materials development.
The Partnership includes work streams dedicated to developing an evidence base; supporting SMEs in engaging in high-value collaborative R&D; sustainable business practice; reimagining retail and consumer experiences; tackling the industry reliance on synthetic materials; developing new sustainable materials and building critical mass in new modes of making and manufacturing for fashion and textiles.
The BFTT Partnership Director is Professor Graeme Evans, UAL and Co-Director is Professor Jane Harris, UAL. They are supported by a research team from London College of Fashion and Chelsea College of Arts, UAL in collaboration with UCL, Loughborough University, University of Cambridge, University of Leeds, Queen Mary University London and the V&A. Key industry partners include, world leading luxury brands, online retail and emergent design companies of the future – among over 40 FTT businesses, trade associations and Local Enterprise Partnerships to sign up to the initiative.
Professor Graeme Evans, UAL said:
“UAL is excited to lead on this ambitious project to catalyse growth and innovation among the small and medium-sized enterprises that power our economically and culturally significant fashion, textiles and technology sector. We look forward to working with industry and with university partners, AHRC and our fellow creative industry clusters so that this key sector can secure a sustainable future that thrives in the global marketplace.”
Textile innovation in the UK is ranked third in the world and first in Europe, with the UK currently advancing developments in new, environmentally sustainable materials and production technologies. The project exploits the UK industry’s considerable market advantage and design influence and responds to emerging challenges to sustain and accelerate the creative economy of the FTT sector – including an increasingly ethically-sensitive market, real-terms resource cost increases and evolving environmental legislation. To tackle these challenges, UAL’s partnership draws upon transdisciplinary research expertise in design, computer science, chemistry, materials engineering, economics, management, anthropology and manufacturing, and builds on the University’s long-standing history of world-leading research in sustainable fashion (the Centre for Sustainable Fashion, Centre for Circular Design, Textile Futures Research Community), technology (the Digital Anthropology Lab) and business (the Centre for Fashion Business Innovation Research).
It is intended that the project foster a new, creative business culture in which fashion, textile and technology businesses – from SMEs to multinational companies – can use R&D as a mechanism for growth. The project will also engage with business and Government to develop a pipeline of talent to staff the FTT businesses of the future, tapping into the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths) agenda which aims to provide young people with the creative skills needed to support the sector.
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