Conductive Transfers Limited (CT) is an SME based near Barnsley and was founded in 2017. CT have developed a novel technology for printing stretchable electronics on to textiles. The patented process results in circuits that are stretchable, washable, and durable. They operate two business models:
1) For customers that require low to medium volumes of a circuit, they supply finished circuits ready for integration and final assembly.
2) For customers that wish to manufacture circuits in-house or in high volumes, they offer a full technology transfer package. This includes IP licensing.
CT wished to develop their technology into applications suitable for consumer products and research standard measurement in medicine, health, and sport. The aim was to form an Innovate UK smart grant application to support a targeted development. The company first required a detailed insight and evidence of market characteristics, needs, and potential, to provide the foundation for investment.
What we did
A decision was taken to focus on smart garments in sport and leisure markets, as it was one that CT had the least knowledge of. Sheffield Hallam’s Sports Engineering Research Group (SERG) had excellent connections and knowledge of the domain and this focus would enable a deeper exploration with the resources available through the Sheffield Innovation Programme.
SERG conducted an extensive desktop exploration of the state-of-the-art smart garment in sport and leisure. SERG also interviewed a small sample of R&D staff in major sports brands. The aim was to gather the company’s view on their experiences with smart apparel, and their long-term thinking in both consumer products and for support of products R&D. One interview with a major brand revealed a gap in capability in a mass market garment, and an opportunity for CT. A further exploration was made in this specific area.
Through the Sheffield Innovation Programme, SERG were able to provide a comprehensive survey of smart garments in the sports and leisure sector. Insights provided from two reports enabled Conductive Transfers to target investment in a specific technical performance measurement area identified as a need in the market. This has initially led to purchase of specialist test equipment to support in-house R&D.
“The recently completed Sheffield Innovation Programme project has provided us with detailed and insightful primary market research into the opportunities for smart textiles in the sports apparel market and critically was based on conversations with managers in leading sports apparel businesses. This has allowed us to avoid the expenditure of precious time and resources on approaching a market that is currently sceptical about the value of smart textile data for consumers. However, following warm introductions, it is clear that sports apparel R&D teams are keen to develop better fitting and performing products by using smart textiles. We are now developing innovative smart textile technology that will meet these needs.”Mark CatchpoleCommercial Director, Conductive Transfers Limited