Guided by the Enterprise Europe Network, a French textile SME helped design car seats made from recycled materials as part of a project co-financed by the EU’s Eco-innovation initiative.
The 17-employee firm, known as Technisit and based in northern Saint-Quentin, supplies carpet and textiles for seats to the automotive, railway and furniture sectors.
It is also a longstanding client of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Picardie Region, one of nearly 600 Network branches worldwide helping make SMEs more competitive. For small players in niche sectors like Technisit, that guidance has proven to be invaluable.
"One of the most valuable services we provide is alerting companies of EU funding opportunities," says Network expert Emilie Marcelet. That includes projects funded by the EU's Eco-innovation initiative, which seeks to bridge the gap between research and the market by supporting green innovations with large commercial potential.
She put Technisit in touch with project coordinator Javier Jimenez of the Leitat Technological Center in Barcelona, which was applying for CIP Eco-innovation funding to develop a new green upholstery for cars. Marcelet coached Technisit on preparing an application to join the consortium. Later, she invited Technisit to a business matchmaking event at the SIFER Exhibition of Railway Technology in Lille to present the first result Green Up to different companies.
"Technisit contributed by using their industry contacts to get feedback on their needs and market specifications," says project coordinator Javier Jimenez, of the Leitat Technological Center. The application was successful, leading to €473,404 in EU funding for the three-year 'Green Up' project, which concluded in December 2013 (www.green-project.eu). By replacing polyurethane foam with recycled polyester yarn, the aim was to slash the amount of solid waste from car interiors. Aproduction line was set up for creating fully recycled and recyclable upholstery products of leather and textile materials for application in seating, with significant future environmental benefits. Furthermore, the project developed a more efficient and ecological leather tanning process and produced a recycled PET chip and 100% recycled PET yarns and fabrics.
Besides getting new business from existing customers, Technisit hopes to gain new clients in the long term from its involvement with Green Up, says managing director Didier Colin. "It will give us a competitive edge."