From the 29th of June to the 2nd of July at the scientific and technological park "Fabrika" of the IKBFU the first round table "New polymer and composite materials: science and business hosted." The event was jointly organized by Olga Moskalyuk, Head of the Laboratory of Polymer and Composite Materials at SmartTextiles* and employees of the International Research Centre for “Coherent X-Ray Optics for “Megascience” Installations.
The main objective of the event was to unite representatives of business and science in the development of advanced and progressive production technologies in the chemical and light industries. At present, the formation of interdisciplinary research and production groups is extremely important for solving production and technological problems, and the organization of consortiums for the subsequent creation and development of advanced engineering schools in the field of "smart" and multifunctional polymer and composite materials is more promising than ever before.
Olga Moskalyuk, Head of the Laboratory of Polymer and Composite Materials "Smart Textiles" International Scientific Innovation Centre “RO”:
Only a joint and systematic discussion by representatives of science and business communities of the current and future challenges facing the industry will make it possible to achieve the planned plans and build the missing production chains. I am pleased that the SmartTextiles laboratory is becoming a platform for such communication. We aim to continue to hold such events and form expert sessions on the actual topics in the current time of challenges and opportunities. We are open to cooperation.
The round table was attended by representatives of the industry, universities and infrastructure departments of St. Petersburg, Moscow, Novosibirsk, Nalchik, Chelyabinsk, Krasnodar, Kazan and Kemerovo, Kaliningrad and the region. The event was held in a mixed format, most of the participants took part in discussions remotely via video link. More than 50 heads of organizations and structural divisions, researchers, young scientists, graduate students, students of scientific and educational institutions and industrial enterprises were presented 18 reports within two sections.
Particular attention and interest was caused by the business section, within which a discussion of the current state, as well as development trends in the market of polymer and composite materials and “smart clothes” from them, took place.
Sergey Shevchenko, Deputy Director of the Centre for Technology Transfer, St. Petersburg Electrotechnical University “LETI”:
According to Acumen Research and Consulting company, the market volume of electronic textiles and smart clothes by 2028 should increase by 5 times compared to the current year and amount to about fifteen billion dollars, which indicates that this is a fairly popular area. For 2021, 247 companies with developments and product solutions in three sectors were represented on the topic of smart textiles in the world: conductive yarn/textile/fabric, polymer materials and conductive ink. The basis of smart clothes is smart textiles. There are three levels of “smart” clothing. The first is passive "smart" clothing based on “smart” textiles; at the second level, electronics are added to collect and transmit information, i.e. active smart material; and on the third – “ultra-smart” clothing, which is characterized by adding to the previous capabilities of clothing the function of processing information from sensors using either logic elements directly sewn into clothing, or remotely through the use of cloud computing using artificial intelligence. The first two levels are widely used in military, sports, diagnostic and medical clothing. The third level has so far only pilot solutions and is being implemented all over the world. This is a matter for the near future. And it is for the last level of “smart” clothing that the highest growth rate in the number of developments is predicted by 2027.
Representatives of industries spoke about their innovative products and discussed the importance of interaction with universities as centres of excellence. Special attention was paid to the issues of import substitution. So, for example, in continuation of the topic of the need for special materials, there was a discussion of the demand for domestic production and the prospects for developments in the field of heat- and fire-resistant fibers for high-tech work and protective clothing.
Evgeny Lvov, head of special and protective clothing development at BTK Groups:
We are now faced with the fact that the main producers of both heat-resistant and fire-resistant fibers are located abroad (USA, Japan, France, Taiwan). There are small production facilities in Belarus and Russia, but very few products reach the open market. At the same time, the needs of modern domestic industry, according to the most conservative estimates, are about seven hundred tons per year in heat-resistant fibers and about a thousand per year in fire-resistant ones. And this is only overalls without taking into account the needs of law enforcement agencies. It is obvious that these needs are not closed now, and the solution of the problems of production of such fibers in Russia is extremely important in modern conditions. In addition, the problem of processing products after a certain period of operation is of interest, since these fibers could be returned to the production of some other textile materials at a completely different cost.
During the discussion, the problem of discommunication that arises between the market, science and business was voiced, as well as a discussion of the importance of creating an acceleration programme to support and develop Russian innovative projects in the field of light industry.
Pavel Pogrebnyakov, General Director of Ampertex LLC:
There is an insane gap between us as a manufacturer and a customer, because not all entrepreneurs are ready to take on the development of a new product. We provide an opportunity to diversify products, but this opportunity, unfortunately, is hard to find its entrepreneur in Russia. Abroad, this happens much faster – business finds technology, finances scientists, creates a micro-enterprise, a product and tests it. Our mission is to spread the possibilities of technology so that young entrepreneurs see the need and technology, and most importantly, the opportunity to merge them.
In 2018 the Russian Seasons company with the support of the “Innopraktika” non-governmental development institute, launched a long-term programme to support innovative projects in the light industry in Russia Seasons Tech.
Daria Matsievskaya, President of “Russian Seasons” LLC:
The colleague made the problem very clear. We are a platform where different segments of the industry or groups can connect, whether they are representatives of business, science, the market or universities, as well as young innovators. Everyone has their own goals and few ways to interact with each other. We strive to unite these people in the work on a common project and just act as such a layer that could merge all of the listed groups. The interaction of key players in the industry and startups participating in the accelerator will help businesses find new potentially successful ideas that contribute to the development of light industry, and entrepreneurs will find customers and long-term partners, and integrate their projects into production.
At the end of the business section, equally important issues related to the peculiarities of certification of innovative products and business support tools in the region were considered.
Alexander Shibaev, Deputy Director for the Innovation and Production Block of the Foundation “Entrepreneurship Support Centre of the Kaliningrad Region”:
A lot of people have been talking about the collaboration between science and business lately, but by organizing a round table you went even further by trying to invite a business support institution to this collaboration. I hope that with our support, the very bridge will be formed where business, with the help of our resources, will be able to test the hypotheses that science puts forward.
The scientific section presented current developments in the field of polymer and composite materials in a wide range of applications from alternative energy sources, additive technologies, high-strength and heat-resistant structures and trans-energy plastics to biomedical applications and tissue engineering. At the end of the event, the participants noted the importance and relevance of round tables of a detailed formation.
Ekaterina Tsobkallo, Head of the Department of Engineering Materials Science and Metrology,Saint-Petersburg State University of Industrial Technologies and Design:
Thank you for organizing this urgently needed forum aimed at establishing contacts between business and science. The interest shown on the part of scientists and businessmen testifies to the high demand for such events. I want to thank you for the highest level and excellent planning. We are always happy to participate in future projects.
*Laboratory of Polymer and Composite Materials “SmartTextiles” International Research Centre “Coherent X-Ray Optics for Megascience” IKBFU was created as part of the implementation of the programme of academic leadership “Priority 2030”.