Silver Label certification key to continued success for Smart Textiles
The success story of Smart Textiles continues. An approved ECEI SILVER Label “Dedicated to Cluster Excellence” audit under the European Clusters Labelling Excellence Structure is the latest success to tick off. It is an important quality assurance benchmark issued by the European Commission that will facilitate increased international collaboration.
Since Smart Textiles started fifteen years ago, what was once a limited project has become an established cluster, with the goal of creating a better world through system innovations. In the beginning, the focus was on dynamic fibres and electroactive textiles in order to develop the next generation of products. Today, Smart Textiles is a recognised innovation environment, on By Rum’s list of Sweden’s most powerful actors in architecture and design, and an important part of Science Park Borås at the University of Borås.
“Because we were certified at the silver level, we now also have an important stamp of quality that guarantees that we have a high level of excellence and quality in an international context,” explained Susanne Nejderås, Director of Smart Textiles and a textile strategist at Science Park Borås.
“In five years, we believe that Smart Textiles will be the strongest textile cluster in Europe. Certification is one key part of such success, and it is a prerequisite for taking that role” she continued.
The evaluation described developments
The road here has, among other things, take them through first being a cluster initiative and then becoming an established cluster that is now certified at the prestigious silver level. The cluster evaluation consisted of 18 minimum criteria to show, for example, what the composition of the companies in the cluster looks like, their collaborations with each other, what proportion of the collaborations are with the public sector, and so on. Three development areas were to be identified, the strategy process, collaborations with cluster participants, and the organisation in regards to knowledge and competence development.
“By presenting these points, we showed how well-developed and mature the cluster is and how it has developed over time,” said Susanne Nejderås.
National cluster organisations act as innovation-promoting actors through EU collaborations in Europe and globally. Smart Textiles is linked to the textile strength area and is anchored in Västra Götaland’s strategy for smart specialisation in Sweden and Europe as well as internationally.
Cluster collaborations and the interconnections between clusters and other organisations, such as science parks, is an element of long-term development work on the part of the EU. There are a number of cluster organisations in Sweden and national development efforts under the leadership of the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth, in close collaboration with Vinnova, to strengthen cluster development in Sweden even further. In 2021, the new cluster association Clusters of Sweden was established in order to gather together the Swedish cluster landscape; Smart Textiles is one of the founders.
In total in the EU, about 1,200 clusters have bronze certification, about 150 have silver certification, and about 100 have gold certification. The certifications are valid for two years and need to be renewed continuously.
Smart Textiles at Science Park Borås is Sweden’s only textile cluster.
Text: Anna Kjellsson, translation Eva Medin
Photo: European Cluster Labelling Excellence Structure