Entrepreneurial innovation is driving change across industries. Technological advances and the internet economy lend support to new ways of reaching customers and innovative business models. The technical textiles sector is especially a potent hotbed of emerging solutions to real world problems. Known as India’s sunrise industry, the technical textile industry is undeniably one of the most crucial sectors of India with its 12 widespread application areas contributing massively to the economy. The sector permeates every aspect of our modern living, ranging from fashionable and funky apparel to the far-reaching infrastructure and agriculture, thus raising its prominence even beyond fashion. Despite its unprecedented potential, the sector has been bogged down with gaps in knowledge sharing between stakeholders and the lack of avenues enabling entrepreneurial collaborations.
While the government has been fairly generous in supporting the sector through subsidies and start-up initiatives, there is an essential need for promoting better awareness and collaboration in the industry.
Techtextil NEXT hackathon, as India’s very first hackathon in technical textiles targeted such issues and brainstormed considerable ideas for growth of the sector. The hackathon witnessed stirring debates between investors, textile associations, designers, start-ups and entrepreneurs. With an intense flair for breakthroughs, the founders, investors and other leading professionals like Mr Saumil Shah (Co-Founder of Broadcast Wearables Pvt. Ltd), Mr Rajiv Indimath (An Investor and Co-Founder of High Performance Sports Coaching in Stealth Mode), Mr Mohit Rana (Managing Director- Raina Industries), Miss Neha Rao (Head of Product Innovation, Boheco), and Mr Dayal Mehta (Senior Marketing Manager of Nonwovens,Technical Textiles and Protective Textiles) steered discussions on introducing better standard of innovations.
On the other hand, discussing alternatives to promoting sustainability in technical textiles, were (Sustainable Development Goals) SDG promoters, textile associations and other major fields of the sector including Mr Shrikar Dhole, (Founder and CEO- SDG Foundation), Mr Anup Rakshit (Executive Director- Indian Technical Textile Association), Mr Mohapatra (Bombay Technical Textile Association) and Miss Niharika Gautam (Advisor- United Nations SDG and Chairperson- All Ladies League).
As these experts led discussions on various challenges faced by the segment, the knowledge and collaboration gaps hampering a sustainable approach and thereby innovation were observed as the two most predominant areas that needed attention. As an example to presenting a prime solution to sustainability, the experts factored the use of bio-degradable and recyclable materials as a worthy replacement for pollutive composites, also leading way to fair wages and proper working condition for workers. One of the notable applications mentioned in this space was as follows – The millions of tonnes of plastic dumped in the ocean every year; if used as a replaceable raw material in manufacture of various technical textiles could shrink the extensive use of synthetic composites, reducing the cost of procurement and eliminating excess pollution emitted in the process of their extraction.
On the domestic front, the comprehensive seminars and workshops headed by India’s Centre of Excellence institutions have proven to be a great knowledge platform for raising awareness about the fast-pacing sector, however a lack of collaboration still persists within the industry. To resolve this issue, the hackathon flagged integration as the answer. With the dispersed application areas of technical textiles strongly supporting each other through their individual resources and innovations, the sector could achieve exponential growth and garner massive attention towards its flourishing potential.
The Co-Founder of a start-up known as ‘High Performance Sports Coaching in Stealth Mode’, Mr Rajiv Indimath, shared his impression of hackathon at the end of an enthralling session:
“The hackathon has been a great melting pot and a great platform for expanding horizons and mindset. The sharing of experiences and fresh radical ideas are what made the Techtextil NEXT hackathon so great.”