futureTEX – Open Innovation

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Driving innovation for the textile industry


How can open innovation (OI) be systematically integrated in the innovation process? In the futureTEX – Open Innovation project, Fraunhofer IAO is collaborating with research partners to develop methods and tools for the textile industry. The project aims to systematically identify new fields of application for textile materials and technologies and come up with new methods with which SMEs can assess their innovation potential and design transparent processes.


To develop methods for the implementation and continuation of open innovation, existing research results were analyzed and adapted to the requirements of SMEs. In addition, broad surveys, events in various formats and targeted expert interviews were conducted and analyzed. A study was then published with the research results.

In order to successfully implement the concepts for the wider use of open innovation in SME operations, flexible organizational structures as well as open yet targeted cultural and management concepts at a network and business level are essential. The solutions developed in the project will be piloted on the basis of an interdisciplinary dialogue with stakeholders from the entire value chain in the textiles industry.


The objective of this collaborative project is to further develop the creative and network-based open innovation approach specifically for the textile industry.

  • Fraunhofer technology experts use the OI readiness check to determine if SMEs are fertile ground for open innovation. The researchers use interviews conducted with customers, suppliers, cooperation partners, employees and managers to systematically scrutinize how ready companies are in terms of open innovation and identify areas with potential. Subsequent individual analyses reveal company-specific requirements and application possibilities for open innovation.
  • The development of a software-based radar system helps SMEs identify, monitor and evaluate external innovation drivers by taking new technologies, new markets and applications, cross industry innovation, and general trends into account. This analytical tool derived from the combination of early detection and future research creates a holistic, systematic concept for open innovation, which will then be permanently integrated into the textile industry as an intelligent innovation driver.
  • An innovation community called KompetenzWerkstatt (competence workshop) was formed as part of this project. For many SMEs, networking in the technical textile industry – including the exchange of expertise – is the first step towards creating an open innovations culture. Experts at Fraunhofer and the project partners determine the content of the individual KompetenzWerkstatt events, while participating SMEs work on the given topics.

This project is being funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). It is one of four basic projects within “futureTEX – a future model for traditional industries in the fourth industrial revolution,” which is one of the winning projects in the BMBF “Twenty20 – Partnership for Innovation” program. Apart from Fraunhofer IAO, partners involved in this project comprise the Sächsische Textilforschungsinstitut e. V., the University of Stuttgart’s Institute of Human Factors and Technology Management IAT, and the company n3 Data Analysis, Software Development & Consulting GmbH & Co. KG.