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An industrial cluster for fibres in the heart of Europe

News International-French

16 Aug 2011

The Natural Fibres industrial cluster reflects the intent of national and regional authorities to support the region’s economic future and to respond to the needs of companies established there.

(Published on May-June 2006 – JEC Magazine #25)


The Vosges, an attractive department located in eastern France, at Europe’s centre, has a rich and varied industrial fabric with many services. No fewer than 1,200 companies, 50,000 employees and 1,500 researchers (working in 20 laboratories) are established there, along with more than 300 qualified researchers specialised in the fibre industry. The Vosges Department clusters its fibre sector in a single area where the environment is favourable to innovation, with technical centres for the fibre and composite industries, many communication routes, logistic services and skilled labour.


The North-Eastern Natural Fibres cluster


The aim of this industrial cluster is to facilitate the emergence of a new fibre industry. France’s North-East is a leading region for industries that work with natural (cellulose) fibre resources using a variety of fibre-assembly processes, in textiles, wood, furniture, paper/cardboard and natural-fibre-reinforced composites.


Starting with the premise that natural fibres have tremendous potential for innovation and creation of value all the way from molecule to material, the Natural Fibres cluster has defined its main challenges as follows:



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Natural Fibres cluster


- promoting and supporting product and process innovation through cross-disciplinary approaches;
- encouraging continuous improvement of human, entrepreneurial and organisational skills through activities such as informing, sharing knowledge, training, and certifying;
- facilitating and supporting the emergence of a new natural-fibre industry.


The Natural Fibres cluster is counting on its own resources, but is also committed to providing manufacturers with financial and fiscal aid, a favourable environment for innovation, qualified labour, and research pooling and networking opportunities.


New products


The properties of fibres will be modified, sometimes at the molecular scale, and used to create new products that are naturally UV, stain and flame resistant, bacteria proof and water repellent, among other things.


More and more of these technologies and products will be used in common by the industries concerned. The future is opening up for nonwoven materials, for example, in which the textile, paper, wood and composite industries are all taking a simultaneous interest.


Materials like functional nonwovens, “smart” or sanitary floors, special-purpose papers with therapeutic, biodegradable, or electronic properties, and natural fabrics with shape memory or that are reinforced, self cleaning, crease resistant, or nonwrinkle are no longer just utopian ideas!