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Recent report: Finnish companies have significant potential for growth in the product development and export of technical textiles
The global market for technical textiles is growing very rapidly, and Finnish companies have great potential for grasping the possibilities in this field, according to the recent report by Finnish Textile & Fashion. Finnish technology expertise and the requirements of legislation and customers regarding sustainable production offer companies the possibility to become pioneers in the industry.
Technical textiles are a significant area for growth within the textile industry, and one in which Finnish companies have very good potential for success. In the EU alone, technical textiles make up about 30% of all textile production, and their production value is over 20 billion euros. The field employs over 150,000 people in nearly 15,000 companies within the EU. The global technical textiles market is approximately 160 billion euros and is expected to grow to almost 200 billion euros by 2026.
“Technical textiles cover a broad variety of different products, ranging from pressure garments and air plane seats to protective and safety textiles and non-woven fabrics. Their production is different from the operations and stages of the value chain of other fields within the textile industry. This field is based on technology, which opens up possibilities for domestic companies, as Finland has a great deal of technological competence as well as expertise in sustainable production,” says Anne Ruokamo, Chief Advisor at Finnish Textile & Fashion.
According to the report, the significance of sustainable production is highlighted in the production of technical textiles. Sustainable development, materials and production methods that save resources, as well as utilizing various recycling solutions, have become increasingly important in the production of technical textiles in recent years. Given that Finland is strong in textile recycling, recycled materials could be utilized more extensively in the product development of technical textiles, which would create a competitive advantage in relation to many other countries.
“Technical textiles could be used to save energy and protect the environment, thus promoting the green transition. New applications continue to emerge,” says Ruokamo.
Finland is also a pioneer in developing cellulose-based fibers, which creates a wide variety of opportunities for domestic companies. This could be utilized more in the production of technical textiles. International companies in the textile industry are interested in Finnish fiber innovations.
The vital role of SMEs
Small and medium-sized enterprises are of vital importance in the field of technical and industrial textiles in the EU and especially in Finland. The market is fragmented, and there are many specialized SMEs in the field. In practice, this means that companies looking to grow must try to enter the very competitive global market. In order to succeed in this, domestic companies need support.
“Companies have to make significant investments in purchasing testing equipment and starting the production. Product development and purchasing the materials needed for large orders also require investments,” says Ruokamo.
Another significant bottleneck for growth recognized in the report is the lack of both expertise and workforce. According to the report, it is vital to fix the entire education path of the textile industry, from the training of tailors and dressmakers to that of graduate engineers.
The international Textile and Material Engineering degree program that started in Tampere is an excellent beginning, but it is not yet enough to secure the level of competence that would encourage companies to continue investing in Finland,” says Inna Ahlqvist, Education & Skills Advisor at Finnish Textile & Fashion.
Growth program for textile and fashion industry to boost the production of technical textiles
Many of the Finnish companies that manufacture technical textiles are at the top of their industry and they have huge potential for growth. This potential could be untapped with national support and good cooperation between companies, research and educational institutions and the public sector. This requires concrete actions to develop the textile industry strategically and comprehensively.
Together with its labor market partners, Finnish Textile & Fashion has called for the development of the textile and fashion industry to be named as a central objective in the next government policy statement. Additionally, a comprehensive growth program should be created for the industry, which would include a wide range of actions, from education and the strengthening of competencies to financing and export programs.
The new report complements and deepens the previously published report on the focus points for the growth of the Finnish textile and fashion industry, which was commissioned by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment.
Download the report in Finnish
Tekstiili- ja muotialan kasvun paikat -raportti: Tekniset tekstiilit (2022).pdfDownload