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Jaroslaw Adamowski

Expert Opinion

21st December 2016, Poland

Poland’s Inovatica develops biotextile T-shirt

Polish company Inovatica sp. z o.o. has developed an innovative T-shirt fitted with bio-monitoring capacities. The biotextile product allows to perform electrocardiography (EKG) on the patient wearing it.

Senior company representatives told Innovation in Textiles the project consisted of developing such a bio-monitoring system that could be integrated with the T-shirt in a way that would make it possible to wash and clean it, and use it in a regular way. The product should also allow to record the electrical activity of a patient’s heart with the use of electrodes placed on their skin.

The textronics product was developed by Inovatica in cooperation with two local higher education institutions. © Inovatica sp. z o.o.

Bogumil Zieba, the company’s managing director, confirmed that Inovatica aims to launch large-scale production of the T-shirt, and that the next phase of the project will be to introduce it to the domestic and foreign markets.

“However, currently we don’t have the capacity to launch production, because each T-shirt must be custom-made for each patient to ensure that the T-shirt perfectly fits their bodies,” Zieba told Innovation in Textiles.

This is particularly important for the proper functioning of EKG sensors, and allows to avoid distorted results of the tests, according to the company’s managing director.

“We are currently working on developing a new technology that would allow to produce individual T-shirts based on a 3D scan of the patient’s body,” Zieba said.

Investors to support foreign expansion

Once the necessary technology is available, Inovatica aims to introduce its bio-textile product to the Polish markets, and also launch export sales of the T-shirt.

The company’s managing director said that the company is seeking to establish a close cooperation with potential partners, both investors and manufacturers, as „we don’t have the necessary output capacity to launch mass production, distribute the product and market it.”

In addition to the costs related to setting up a production line for the T-shirt, obtaining medical certification for the product could cost more than PLN 100,000 (EUR 230,000), according to Inovatica’s managing director.

Bogumil Zieba, the company’s managing director (right), with a tablet. © Inovatica sp. z o.o.

“This is why we would be glad to acquire a partner investor that could provide us with the necessary organisational and financial support, and also allow us to market the T-shirt at mass scale. However, we already see that the road between developing a functional prototype and mass-producing is very bumpy,” Zieba said. “The principal aim of the project was achieved with the use of relatively low expenditure on staff and equipment, and it also revealed the major market potential of our product.”

Mobile textronics solutions

The textronics product was developed by Inovatica in cooperation with two local higher education institutions, the Lodz University of Technology (Politechnika Lodzka) and the Medical University of Lodz (Lodzki Uniwersytet Medyczny). Inovatica’s product is Internet-enabled with allows doctors to monitor their patients’ state via an app installed on their phones or tablets. The T-shirt is also enabled with Bluetooth connectivity.

The product’s functionalities were tested by cardiologists from the Medical University of Lodz, while engineers from the Lodz University of Technology were in charge of developing a textronics solution that allowed Inovatica to merge the textile products with EKG sensors.

Regarding the company’s investment plans for the forthcoming year, Zieba said that Inovatica has applied to obtain funds from the European Union to finance further research and development (R&D) works in relation to the bio-textile T-shirt. Should Inovatica obtain financial support from the EU, it will be one step closer to launching sales of its new product.

Inovatica aims to introduce its bio-textile product to the Polish markets, and also launch export sales of the T-shirt. © Inovatica sp. z o.o.

“Together with a major research unit, we have submitted an application to the National Centre For Research and Development to pursue our work and complete the project to make the T-shirt available to consumer markets,” Zieba said.

The first phase of the project was supported by funds obtained from the Regional Operational Programme for the Lodz region, under which Inovatica and its partners obtained about PLN 300,000 (EUR 690,000) from Brussels.

Set up in 2015, Inovatica is based in Lodz, Poland’s second largest city, and specialises in developing Internet of Things (IoT) solutions and software. For many years, the city has served as the country’s textile hub, with a number of manufacturers operating their production facilities there. This said, since Poland’s transformation to a market economy in 1989, the industry has been struggling to remain competitive regarding foreign manufacturers.

To stimulate the industry’s recovery, the Polish government aims to inject as much as PLN 400 million (EUR 90.6 million) into the city’s troubled textile industry to fund research and development activities under the Innotextile programme, financed by funds from the EU, as earlier reported by Innovation in Textiles. The programme is designed to support the development of innovative textiles, such as hydrotextiles, geotextiles and agritextiles, and their production by local textile industry players.

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