In 2006, the Company reached an agreement with Leeds University to establish the jointly-funded Clothworkers’ Innovation Fund to provide early-stage financing for projects developed in the textiles and colour science areas which have commercial potential. Funding is granted for patent protection, proof of concept, initial marketing etc; a key element of the scheme is provision of business consultancy support to the academics.
The Company’s objectives are to support academics in the two departments, and for the Fund to become self-sustaining over time, with a proportion of any commercial returns generated by projects financed coming back to the Fund to replenish its resources.
In its first five years, the Company has contributed £400,000 which has been matched by the University (partly in kind). Some forty projects have been supported and two have already generated a return. We have recently agreed to provide up to a further £300,000 over the next three years.