Sunday, July 5, 2015

[ Technical Textiles - Advanced design and certification technology platform for functional apparel technical textiles.]

The global sportswear market is worth over $100 
billion a year and the competition is fierce. 

As opposed to the old days when it was absolutely 
uncool to be seen in tracksuits on the high street, 
athletic apparels have become both a lifestyle and 
fashion statement in recent years. Yet, that means 
sportswear customers are savvier than ever – expecting 
more not only in style and look but also in 
functional performance such as heat stress, 
cold stress, compressional stretch and pressure comfort, 
injury prevention, performance enhancement and 
maintenance of physiological health. 

The Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and 
Apparel (HKRITA) funded a research team in the 
Textile Bioengineering Research Center (TBRC) 
hosted in The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, 
who have devised comprehensive computational software 
and engineering database to design and simulate the 
thermal performance of functional textiles and 
garments from physiological stresses and psychological 
comfort points of view. The research team is now 
looking for investors to commercialise their various 
inventions with huge business potential in the 
fast-growing clothing market.

Sports, a new religion.

The emergence of so-called ‘sports luxe’ – such as couture 
trainers and designer joggers with hefty price tags – has 
permanently changed the landscape of fashion and 
ready-to-wear industry. 

People are generally more aware of the health benefits of 
working out than before and are happier than ever to wear 
athletic clothing that looks fashion-forward and chic. 

Sports lovers now expect affordable sports products that 
offer better quality, better design and higher performance. 
And for ultimate performance, the key is to keep the athlete 
cool and dry while offering support to the right muscles. 
That explains the birth of sweat-wicking, heat-dissipating 
and stretch compression fabrics.

Experts at TBRC did systematic investigations on sports 
physiology and used multi-scale computations to design 
all-rounded garment and fabric. They mapped out body heat 
and moisture distribution to determine which part of the 
clothing needs to dissipate more heat or draws more moisture 
than others. 

The biomechanical aspects of each sport also informed 
patterning and design. Optimal level of support or 
compression is applied on the key muscles for optimal 
arterial and venous blood flow, and hence, improved 
stamina and faster recovery. 

With the platform they designed, functional performance 
of each fabric and garment can be analysed with respect 
to specific combinations of sport activities and external 

They also incorporated human lifestyle activities, living 
environments and anthropological characteristics of human 
populations with fibre materials, fabric structural features 
and garments structural design into the clothing functional 
CAD system for quantitative technical design and simulation.

In fact, the team have custom-designed a series of 
performance sportswear for Olympic elite athletes and 
functional uniforms for firefighters, medical workers and 
construction workers to  improve wear comfort, enhance 
performance, reduce thermal stresses and increase protection 
while minimising the risk of injury. 

The inventions from TBRC have been successfully commercialised 
and sold to more than 33 countries and developed as the national 
testing standards in USA and China (the ‘Moisture 
Management Tester’) and become the authorised product 
by Hong Kong Hospital Authority (the ‘Nano Facemasks’). 
The high performance sportswear designed and developed by 
TBRC team has been utilised to support elite athletes in 
major sports competitions in the world, including the 2008
Beijing Olympic Games and the 2012 London Olympics.

The opportunities.

The TBRC team is now looking for partners and investors 
from around the world to commercialise their inventions. 
One or more spin-out companies could be set up and possible 
scopes for commercialisation include:-

Novel smart anti-cancer and anti-infection biomaterials, 
nano particles nanofibres and medical devices for regenerate 
medicineNew functional textile fibres and fabrics
Original and creative functional garment innovations (products)
Innovative medical protective product innovations such as 
respirators and personal protective clothing and equipment (PPE)
Coud computational technology platform for technical design 
of functional textiles and apparel products and for e-business 
platform in terms of testing certificating functional performances 
of fibres, fabrics and apparel products
Development of e-technology-based lifestyle oriented & 
customised product interactive functional design and manufacture 
services to global consumers.
Business plans, patents, designs, registered copyrights and 
scientific papers are available for review and discussion. 
Contact information: 

• This article is part of the ‘ITF Projects Commercialisation 
Programme’ hosted by Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks 
Corporation (HKSTP) in conjunction with Isis Innovation, the 
technology transfer company of the University of Oxford. 
The programme aims to expose Hong Kong innovations to 
international audiences and hence, facilitate commercialisation 
via the network of Isis. For information on all projects in 
the programme, please visit

This project is organised by Hong Kong Science & Technology Parks 
Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed 
in this material/event (or by members of the project team) do not 
reflect the views of the Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative 
Region, the Innovation and Technology Commission or the Vetting Committee 
of the General Support Programme of the Innovation and Technology Fund.

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