By Roy Chism
The mission of the Industrial Fabrics Foundation (IFF) is to engage in research; educate the public and provide information regarding specialty fabrics; and to engage in other charitable educational activities as approved by the board of directors.
Most recently, the IFF board launched the Innovation Award to inspire specialty fabrics companies from around the world to develop and implement great ideas. These companies and their stories will inspire others and act as benchmarks for tomorrow’s challengers to surpass.
Consistent with the foundation’s mission, the Innovation Award represents a new venue to engage research, to educate the public and to provide information regarding specialty fabrics. As a part of the program we will tell the stories of specialty fabric manufacturers and suppliers who have challenged the norm, succeeded and are leading the way to unchartered territories.
Innovation in all aspects of the specialty fabrics industry is the key to staying competitive in an increasingly global market and financially demanding environment. All industry benefits from successful innovation. Innovation in fabrics, hardware, machinery, end products and processes all contribute to growing demand for fabric products across all the applications represented by our industry membership. The IFF will present the first IFF Innovation Award at IFAI Expo Americas 2010.
Scholarships and research
The foundation is the philanthropic voice of the specialty fabrics industry, and over the last ten years has provided more than $100,000 in scholarships for higher education. The importance and benefits of the scholarship programs are manifest in its contribution to developing a well-educated workforce with the knowledge and skills to bring quality, innovation and growth to our industry.
The foundation offers and administers scholarship programs for members, students and research projects.
Members. A variety of membership scholarships are available to employees and family members of companies that are members of the Industrial Fabrics Association International and a few of its divisions.
Students. Scholarships are available for students enrolled in a textile college or university, or a university architect program, who are pursuing a career in the specialty fabrics industry. By providing scholarships we are fostering the growth and future of our industry.
Research projects. We actively seek and support research projects that fit within the foundation mission and provide recognizable value to our supporters and the industry.
The specialty fabrics industry at all levels benefits from a vibrant and growing environment. Education is the cornerstone of a strong technical textiles industry, so we all directly benefit from the IFF’s efforts.
Change in structure, participation, development and awareness are all key to the future of IFF. Programs that will address specialty fabrics industry and division-related investments in education are critical to maintaining a strong stance for tomorrow.
In its simplest expression a sponsor can offer sustained support for a university level fabrics application lab—or better, multiple labs—and influence the perspective and consciousness of an entire class (or multiple classes) of twenty-year-old textile, architectural, engineering, and design and construction science students to consider fabrics as first solutions. This could translate into repeated considerations over the course of their careers.
Sustained industry sponsorships at the university level and innovation through academic research are bound to yield the best return on investments to ensure that our businesses and our industry continue to thrive and create value for our customers for decades to come.