The First Consumer Goods Innovation Forum “Paving the Way for Future Growth”, saw Consumer Goods industry representatives and sectorial experts gathered at the Centre d’Interpretació Barcelona Wold Race, on 8th June, in Barcelona, Spain.
The Forum, introduced by the Fourth European Platform for Sports Innovation (EPSI) Conference, allowed to strengthen connections between ConXEPT, the Consumer Good Cross ETP, and representatives from the sports world. The lively audience was welcomed by ConXEPT Executive Group Chairman, Prof. Carpanzano, who offered a detailed overview of the joint initiative by EPSI itself, the Footwear ETP and the Textile & Clothing ETP.
Forum attendees expressed their appreciation for the initiative, identifying the Cross-ETP as a point of reference and recognising its potential to foster relevant Research and Innovation across the Consumer Goods industry at European and international levels. “ConXEPT offers exciting opportunities to network beyond the single sectors, strengthening the case for all Consumer Goods industry players and offering the chance of fruitful cooperation and new collaborative research projects across the board”, said one from the crowd.
The two sessions, respectively dedicated to Industrial Innovation and Innovation Policy, lined up a diverse panel of industrial actors, institutional representatives and international experts, who shared their direct experience in emerging areas of innovation, as well as examining current policies at various levels and their complementarities to support innovation for the Consumer Goods industry as a whole.
During the first session, themes such as the use of advanced digital services in fashion, the development of new materials for extra performances, consumer co-creation and the potential of the shared economy, as well as design-based innovation were illustrated with concrete examples from industry. “The sports sector – suggested Mr. Businaro, President of both the Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industry (FESI) and Assosport, the Italian National Association of Sport Equipment Producers – in creating the instruments for the most extraordinary performances by sportspeople, is a fantastic vehicle for innovation and the advancement of technology. Competition is high, on both tracks and markets, and the human is at the centre of our attention”. A similar attitude was expressed by the other speakers: whether by direct involvement of consumers through co-creation and customisation or with careful scrutiny to enhance safety and comfort for workers, human needs are at the centre of technology developments across many fields.
In the course of the second session, the focus shifted to innovation policy and, most specifically, to available instruments to support much needed technology R&D at European, but also national and regional levels, with the presence of hosting Catalan and Spanish institutional representatives. The European Commission representative, Mr. Cardoso (DG GROWTH), informed the audience about key objectives pursued by EU policies. Mr. Cardoso stressed how crucial it is to maintain and bring back manufacturing companies in Europe, by promoting and fostering their competitiveness. “Innovation is mandatory, and its support is especially relevant for SMEs, which make up large shares of the Consumer Goods industry.” Spreading and sharing knowledge about tools and instruments available to companies is, nowadays, fundamental, especially considering the general resistance to innovate. Various examples of such tools were presented by national and regional speakers.
Finally, the Forum offered a valuable opportunity for cross-sectoral exchange and networking with stakeholders from Consumer Goods sector, inspiring future new collaboration.