For some months now, an international consortium comprised of twelve organisations, including various Catalan, Greek, Italian, Romanian, Moroccan and Jordanian universities and institutions, have been working on the European project ‘Fostering innovation in the Jordan and Moroccan textile industry’ (FOSTEX), coordinated by Mònica Ardanuy, lecturer in textile engineering at the ESEIAAT of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya · BarcelonaTech (UPC) and researcher in the Textile Technology Research Group - TECTEX associated with the Institute of Textile Research and Industrial Cooperation of Terrassa (INTEXTER) of the UPC.
The textile industry is extremely important for Morocco and for Jordan, where it represents 165,000 and 60,000 jobs respectively. It is one of the main industrial sectors in both countries. Nevertheless, most of the small and medium-sized companies have limited access to key services for testing, training, researching, learning about new technologies or obtaining funding. Neither of the countries has any centres that cover the triangle of knowledge: that bring together companies, universities and research centres, particularly with respect to advanced textile production.
Therefore, the objective of FOSTEX is, in Ardanuy’s words, is to “fill the gap that currently exists in specialised services for the textile sector in this geographical area through the creation of four advanced support centres for universities in Morocco and Jordan that participate in the project. These centres will become a key element in the development of innovations in the textile sector and in the increase of entrepreneurship in their countries and their area of influence.”
The four centres, which must be running before the end of 2022, will be located in Morocco in the École Supérieure des Industries du Textile et de l'Habillement (ESITH) and in the Université Hassan II (Casablanca); and in Jordan, in the Jordan University of Science and Technology (JUST) and the Al-Balqa' Applied University (BAU). To meet this deadline, the project partners will design a work methodology, explore and analyse good practices, establish needs in the area in which the centres will be located and create training material for the Jordanian and Moroccan lecturers and professionals who will be responsible for managing the centres.
Creating a network to improve the textile industry
The European Commission finances the FOSTEX project through the Erasmus+ (Key Action 2: ‘Capacity Building in the field of Higher Education’) programme with close to a million euros, half of which will be invested in facilities for the four support centres. The project also covers the exchange of students and teaching staff between the participating universities. “The aim of the project is also to establish collaborations between the various European, Moroccan and Jordanian institutions, to create a cooperation network that will help to improve the textile industry in the countries represented in the consortium, so that everyone benefits”, explained Mònica Ardanuy.
In Europe, the FOSTEX partners are, in addition to the UPC, which is the project coordinator: the AEI Tèxtils association, a Catalan cluster of technical textiles established in Terrassa; the Universitat de West Attica (UNIWA) and the Creative Thinking Development Center (CRETHIDEV) in Greece; the Material ConneXion (MCI) group and the Centro Italiano d’Apprendimiento Permanente (CIAPE) in Italy; and the Institutul National de Cercetare-Dezvoltare pentru Textile si Pielarie (INCDTP) of Romania. In Morocco, the participants are the École Supérieure des Industries du Textile et de l'Habillement (ESITH), the Université Hassan II and the Moroccan association of textile and dressmaking industries (AMITH). Jordanian members include the consortium of entre the Jordan University of Science and Technology (JUST), the Al-Balqa' Applied University (BAU) and the Amman Chamber of Commerce (ACC).