Article published 22 May 2023

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"SSbD needs to be more approachable", Interview with Lutz Walter, Secretary General at Textile ETP

Hi Lutz Walter, Secretary General at the European Technology Platform for the Future of Textiles and Clothing! Tell us about your organisation.

- Textile ETP’s role is to bring stakeholders together, which we have been doing for 20 years. We provide research and innovation roadmaps for the textile sector, act as a think-tank for the sector and help members access EU funding opportunities. We have also started to become more engaged in learning-related activities, where members and non-members can subscribe to our European Masterclasses. We offer mostly online sessions, which has led to wider member participation and attracted new members to our network that lacked time and resources to join physical events.

What has the last year has been like working with the IRISS project?

- Super interesting. SSbD is an overall concept where I see the logic and benefits, but it is difficult to operationalize. How can we reduce the complexity and make it accessible also to smaller companies? That translation of an abstract concept into something actionable should be the first action.

Another thing has been to understand how the other value chains work, we use different vocabulary for example. When you look at the concept of safety, we have different views; some value chains are looking more into the chemicals and materials used in the production process, some focus more on product safety for the end user.

What were your expectations of joining IRISS?

- I have a much better understanding of the concept now, which I hoped that I would get from taking part in this project. SSbD needs to be more approachable and simpler to be able to benefit everybody. Companies today either have an SSbD light or not at all. As it looks right now there is no company that can do it fully. We need to popularize the concept of SSbD.

Why is there a need for an SSbD network?

- It adds a big value having people who are practicing, researching, and developing within a concept that is not yet very well understood by everyone coming together to try to share what they have learnt and how that can benefit others. The tricky part is the implementation.

What are you looking forward to in 2023 regarding the IRISS project?

- For the textile value chain, I want to get the work going on our case study of applying the SSbD concept to innovation in workwear and protective clothing, that is one thing that I am looking forward to.

Another thing is the interaction across the value chains. We have some follow-up work on skill gaps and needs, where we in the next step will involve some companies to get closer to where the real action is.