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AITEX is the leader of the European Defence Agency (EDA) project, “Smart textiles in defence: looking at the soldiers of the future (STILE)”, whose endpoint is a proof of concept of a multifunctional smart textile model in defence. Due to its peculiarities, the STILE model is embedded within the dual use ecosystem, which is expected to get the attention of the EU industrial/research policy in the upcoming years.
Within the scope of this project, the International Forum on Advanced and digitalised Smart Textiles (IFAST) took place online, on 15 and 16 June 2021, focusing on the development of advanced smart textiles in the European defence sector and on the foundation of a possible European future dual use programme for multifunctional smart textiles. The IFAST International Forum had a broad participation of relevant stakeholders coming from governmental defence bodies, industry, academia and R&T communities, as well as European institutions and organizations, with 230 registered participants, coming from 24 EU Member States and EU associated countries, counting on the presence of representatives of different Institutional and Governmental Bodies, such as the European Commission, the Ministries of Defence of various EU Member States, and the European Defence Agency. Initially planned in Lisbon, the event was organised in online format, due to the covid restrictions. IFAST was composed of an Exhibition Centre, where industries, academia and research organisations presented their products, services and projects in the areas of smart, advanced and digitalised textiles, by means of virtual booths, and a Conference Area, in which several keynote speeches were given, the results of the STILE Project were presented and two panels were organised:
- Panel 1. Foresight on advanced and digitalised smart textiles in the European defence sector.
Smart Textiles are a new generation of materials and systems with advanced multifunctional properties which, given their ability of being integrated into uniforms and platforms, have drawn the attention of defence stakeholders. In this context, the European Defence Agency (EDA) has incorporated the Smart Textiles into the Strategy Research Agenda (SRA) of the CapTech Materials & Structures. This panel reflected on the envisaged evolution of the smart textiles in the upcoming years and their role and potential applications within the European defence field.
- Panel 2. Visualising a European dual use programme for multifunctional smart textiles.
The field of Smart Textiles can be applied to both the military and civil sectors, being therefore defined as a dual use technology. This enables a wide range of potential cross-fertilising exchanges between both sectors. Due to the increasing interest toward dual use applications at European level, this panel contemplated different perspectives about developing a European dual use programme for multifunctional smart textiles, analysing the advantages and challenges of making a programme on this matter available as well as the potential roadmap that should be defined and followed to achieve its implementation.