The Future of Industry project is set in the context of calls for a European ‘industrial renaissance’ and a commitment to raise the industry share of GDP in the EU from 16% to 20% of GDP by 2020. The objective of this study is to develop a process to engage interactively with industry sectors and relevant stakeholders in order to understand the challenges facing European manufacturers, and to develop recommendations in response.

First workshop: developing a 2025 vision for the European textile industry

The first case study of the project is on European textiles and clothing. This SME-dominated sector has suffered from offshoring in the past, but is responding well to the financial crisis and shows substantial potential for innovation and growth. In the course of the case study, we developed a partnership with Euratex, which represents the interests of the European textile and clothing industry at the level of the EU institutions. We held two workshops with various experts from industry, policy and academia. The aim of the first workshop was to understand the sector, to develop a vision for 2025, and to identify challenges and opportunities. The aim of the second was to develop responses to these opportunities and challenges.

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The first workshop was held over two days in June 2015. The aim was to identify and understand the structure of the European textiles and clothing industry and its key drivers of change, to create a long-term (10-15 years) vision for it, and to identify the challenges and opportunities facing the sector. To do this, we built upon a previous JRC study on the future of industry (you can check the Industrial Landscape Vision resulted from this study) and worked with our 41 expert participants to elaborate upon the textile production and consumption system as well as the potential impact of major trends in society, economy, policy, technology and environment over the next 10 years.

Over the summer, we continued to work with stakeholders to develop and validate the vision. An online community was built in order to easily engage with them. We also explored the opportunities and challenges to the vision in greater depth, identifying four clusters of the most significant issues facing the sector
• Skills: recruiting the next generation of textile workers with the right skills to meet the vision.
• Trade: aspects related to international trade with Asia and the USA, and counterfeit goods.
• Innovation: responding to opportunities for new products, production processes, markets and business models.
• Resources: opportunities and challenges related to material resources as well as energy and water, including circular models.
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Second workshop: key opportunities and challenges

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During the second workshop, held with 50 participants over two days in October 2015, we prepared four ‘challenge stations’ – one for each of these four clusters. The challenge stations started with a brief discussion of the issues before participants were presented with a mini-scenario about a firm facing an opportunity or a challenge related to the cluster. For example, how to overcome non-tariff trade barriers to US markets, or respond to an ageing workforce. Working in small groups of 2-4, the participants designed initiatives to respond to the challenge, prompted to consider the role of technology, collaboration, and action from policymakers, industry bodies, companies and other relevant actors. Through these exercises, we developed a wide range of ideas for initiatives to respond to the key opportunities and challenges facing European textiles. In the course of these two workshops, we have worked with 108 experts, business and policymakers. The case study will be completed in the next two months, and will be further developed and applied in a second case study of European manufacturing.

For more information on this case study or the wider project, including reports on each workshop, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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