Influence of Research and Innovation
The School works with business, public and third-sector partners to create social and economic benefit that influences developments in industry, healthcare, society and culture. These activities are extremely diverse ranging from the creation of financially viable new businesses to the formation of not-for-profit associations that address international megatrends such as sustainability. The experience we have gained in technology transfer, entrepreneurship, high profile network participation, consultancy and research collaboration continues to influence our approach to teaching and the provision of tomorrow’s creative specialists, business leaders and technologists.
Clothworkers’ Innovation Fund (CIF)
The School is extremely fortunate to have established with the support of the Clothworkers Company a dedicated fund to provide early-stage financing for projects in the textile and colour science areas that have commercial potential.
In the seven years of operation since its foundation in 2006, The Clothworkers Company has generously contributed £400,000 to these projects, which has been matched by the University of Leeds, partly in kind.
More than forty projects have been supported and two have already generated a return. A further £300,000 has been kindly offered by the Clothworkers Company over the next three years to support promising projects.
The fund supports patent protection, proof of concept, initial marketing and prototyping and a key element of the scheme is provision of business consultancy support to the academic team. It facilitates multi-disciplinary collaboration between academics and actively supports the involvement of undergraduate and postgraduate students in the projects. A proportion of any commercial returns generated by projects comes back to the fund to replenish its resources.
Four spinout operations have emerged from the School of Design all of which are founded on the development of knowledge developed as a result of research. These companies continue to bring new technologies to market attracting significant external venture capital and business angel investment in the process.
Xeros Ltd – replaces the traditional world of aqueous washing of clothing with polymer bead cleaning. Fresh water is such a precious resource and conventional laundry has always needed a lot of it. For the first time, Xeros polymer beads replace the majority of that water.
NIRI Ltd – develops advanced nonwoven fabrics and products for industry globally. This involves improving the performance of existing fabrics or developing completely new materials and technologies. In collaboration with the University of Leeds the Company has recently developed a new textile product disassembly process, known as Wear2 that is now in commercial development: http://www.wear-2.com/.
Keracol Ltd – develops products that link sustainability with performance in the area of cosmetics and personal care products utilising the array of chemistry that nature provides.
Dyecat Ltd – develops new technologies from the University of Leeds by growing them from fundamental research concepts to market-ready products and processes. Its products are designed to reduce the environmental impact of dyeing and coloration processes, using new natural-based products and processes.