The Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA) held its annual HKRITA Innovation & Technology Symposium 2023 on 17th January. The theme was “Innovating Zero” in regards to technologies and innovative applications that can pave the way for a sustainable net-zero future.
The symposium brought together industry experts, business leaders, government officials and academic representatives from around the world who discussed climate change and shared insights into the role of innovation in driving the sustainability and re-industrialisation of the textile and fashion sector.
“Innovation is at the heart of everything we do at HKRITA. We have now reached a point in our development where we work not only in the lab, but also bring real world solutions at scale to factories, supply chains, warehouses, stores and recycling facilities. We are fortunate to be doing all of this in Hong Kong where we have strong support from the government’s Innovation & Technology Fund to help us scale and industrialise these solutions,” said HKRITA chairperson Teresa Yang during her welcoming remarks.
“Like the rest of the world, Hong Kong has published carbon neutral goals. The key question is how to become a carbon neutral industry in a carbon neutral world and achieve ‘zero’. This is the urgent question that affects all of our businesses for the future,” added Yang.
Core speakers included Lillian Cheong, acting secretary for innovation, technology & Industry, who gave the opening address; Andrew Lo, CEO of Crystal International Group Limited, whose keynote speech was about scaling-up sustainability; Marshall L. Fisher, professor of operations, information and decisions at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania who spoke about “The Value of Data and Innovation in Fashion Forecasting” and Anne-Laure Descours, chief sourcing officer of the Puma Group who spoke about “Building a Sustainable Future in Fashion” in a pre-recorded message.
Other topics included a sustainability breakthrough in silk recycling, the green machine in progress and advancing life-cycle sustainability of textiles through technological innovations. The late morning saw a panel discussion on the topic of achieving net zero; panelists were Ronna Chao, chairperson of Novetex Textiles Limited; Patrick Ho, deputy head of sustainable development at Swire Properties Limited; Sammy Koo, partner at Ernst & Young Transactions Limited; Fred Li, executive director, at Gobi Partners GBA; Cintia Nunes, director at The Mills Fabrica and Joshua Wong, senior manager, corporate responsibility and sustainability at The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels.
Among the innovations shown at the Innovation & Technology Symposium were aprons made of cellulosic yarn, functionalised by amine containing molecules, that capture CO2 from the surrounding air. “Textiles produced from these yarns may contribute to the reduction of CO2 levels in the environment if they are used in large quantities in everyday life,” stated a press release.
Christiane Dolva, strategy lead Planet Positive at the H&M Foundation, showcased solutions to address climate change at the Open Lab. Exhibits presented sportswear adopted by local elite athletes and used throughout multiple training sessions and international competitions, including the Tokyo Olympics, to provide athletes with comfort, style and functionality.
HKRITA and HKSI collaborate on innovative sports training apparelA highlight of the symposium was the signing of a memorandum of understanding between HKRITA and the Hong Kong Sports Institute (HKSI) for their future collaboration on innovations, namely developing next-generation high-performance sportswear and devices tailored for different sports.
“This collaboration has enabled Hong Kong athletes to better adapt to the sports and competition environment. While the HKSAR government is facilitating the professionalisation and development of sports into an industry, HKRITA’s continued support is critical for athletic success in upcoming international sport competitions,” said HKSI’s chief executive Trisha Leahy who signed the MoU together with Yang.
While the government’s Innovation and Technology Fund already supports over 200 projects involving environmental technologies with funding close to 500 million Hong Kong dollars (around 64 million US dollars) and has five research and development centres, of which HKRITA is one, there is more to come.
“The government is determined to build Hong Kong into an international I&T hub together with the efforts from all our companions and I look forward to witnessing more exciting collaborative projects from the HKRITA and its partners,” said Lillian Cheong, acting secretary for innovation, technology & industry, The Government of the Hong Kong SAR, in her opening address.