Leaders from the government, universities, businesses and entrepreneurs from around the world visited one of Yorkshire’s most renowned textile mills last Monday, January 27. Hailing from Australia, the US, Denmark, China and Norway, delegates arrived in the Leeds City Region as part of a programme led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The MIT Regional Entrepreneurship Accelerator Program (MIT-REAP) provides expert guidance to support regions to accelerate economic growth. As part of an ‘ecosystem tour’ exploring opportunities available for entrepreneurship in the region, Future Fashion Factory hosted the delegates on a visit to one of their partners, AW Hainsworth. The tour delved into how the region’s long-established textile industry continues to perform among the world’s best through innovation, connectivity, and inclusivity for entrepreneurs, as well as how Future Fashion Factory supports fashion and textile businesses to access collaborative research and development.
Future Fashion Factory is a 5.4 million pounds research programme aimed at encouraging innovation in the UK’s fashion and textile industry. It is funded by the Creative Industries Clusters Programme, which is part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), and led by the University of Leeds in partnership with the University of Huddersfield and Royal College of Art. Headed by the seventh generation of the Hainsworth family, AW Hainsworth is still located in its original mill buildings in Stanningley, Leeds. Visitors partook in a dedicated tour to discover the innovative products and processes at the heart of a contemporary vertical textile mill while gaining an insight into the on-site Hainsworth Creative Hub which provides support for local fashion entrepreneurs. Designers from the Future Fashion Factory network across Yorkshire and London's Royal College of Art joined the visit and shared their experiences of using Yorkshire cloth and exporting worldwide.
Professor Stephen Russell, Director of Future Fashion Factory stated in a press release, “Yorkshire’s textile industry remains at the forefront of the sector worldwide, driven by innovative solutions to produce high-quality cloth for the world’s biggest brands. We are proud to welcome the MIT-REAP cohort to find out more about Future Fashion Factory’s commitment to enabling business growth.”
Adam Hainsworth, Director at AW Hainsworth added, “We’re are excited to host the MIT-REAP visit and to demonstrate the important roles that innovation and connecting with emerging talent and new businesses play within our own business model. We are fully committed to ensuring continued support for entrepreneurs and students, both through Future Fashion Factory and as an independent business, and believe the opportunity to shed light on the importance of this through the REAP visit will be beneficial to many businesses.”
Photos: courtesy of Future Fashion Factory