Challenge 2: SME R&D Support Programme

The fashion, textiles and technology related sector is buoyant, innovative and multidisciplinary, informing many adjacent sectors in the wider industry – quite literally from agriculture to advertising.

Our programme supports small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as they innovate, research and develop the next generation of products, services and experiences in the fashion, textiles and technology sectors, with sustainability as the driving force.

It provides a tailored package of funding combined with academic expertise and strategic business support, benefitting from the multidisciplinary range of expertise from across the BFTT Partnership.

10 R&D projects have been selected to receive over £1.2 million of funding plus a comprehensive package of support.

The awarded projects cover a range of sub-sectors and R&D areas, including: bio-material development; woven and non-woven textiles innovation; sustainable surface finishing processes; on-shoring of sustainable manufacturing; and novel digital solutions to crowdsource creativity, increase transparency and accountability in the sector. Details over the individual projects can be found below.

The call for the third round of funding is now closed, all the applicants will be notified around 28/04/2021!

(Last updated: 30/03/2021)


Black and white image of Jane Harris

Prof Jane Harris

Principal Investigator


Jane draws upon over 25 years experience in transdisciplinary research, with a background in textile design and extensive experience of computer graphic imaging.  Jane’s role includes working with internal and external stakeholders including industry partners, up to Government Ministerial level.

Jane devised novel approaches to the digital representation of dress and textiles. With a track record of leading collaborative industry and academic research and development initiatives, involving cross disciplinary creative industry practitioners. Jane’s experience includes board-level representation in sector-leading organisations such as the Victoria & Albert Museum and advisory roles for the EU, EPSRC, AHRC, ACE and Arts Foundation. She is Director of Research and Innovation (Stratford) and Professor of Digital Design & Innovation at University of the Arts London. Core skills and competences include:

  • Strategic leadership and project direction
  • Design research in digital and material cultures
  • CGI for fashion and textiles
  • Knowledge Exchange


Black and white portrait of Kate Goldsworthy

Dr Kate Goldsworthy



Kate is Co-Director of the Centre for Circular Design at UAL, a world-leading research centre using practice research to innovate, steer and support circular economies and communities around the globe. Kate’s design research operates at the intersection of materials science with design and sustainability principles. As industry and Governments raise the priority of sustainable business, Kate has undertaken a range of industrial consultancy projects for fashion and textiles organisations including Worn Again Technologies Ltd, Filippa K, VF Corporation and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Core skills and competences include:

  • Laser finishing for fashion and textiles
  • Circular economy and circular design research
  • Sustainable business consultancy in the fashion sector



Prof Rebecca Cain

Co-Investigator (from May 2021)

Loughborough University

Rebecca combines expertise in transdisciplinary design with an enterprising mindset.  She leads collaborative research projects which draw together different disciplines across design, the arts, sciences and humanities around complex societal challenges, with high levels of partnership involvement. She is the Associate Dean for Enterprise in the School of Design and Creative Arts at Loughborough University, Professor in Transdisciplinary Design and is the current Vice-Chair of the Design Research Society.

Core skills and competencies include:

  • Leadership and project direction
  • Knowledge Exchange
  • Transdisciplinary research methods
Portrait of Nikki Matthews

Nikki Matthews

Creative R&D SME Programme Manager


Nikki is an innovation professional with 12 years of experience of creating collaborative programmes, across higher education and industry. She has led R&D collaborations across a range of sectors including creative industries, sustainable energy technologies, shipping and maritime, health technology, public sector and charity sectors.

Previously she worked at the University of Southampton for 12 years and before that she was a senior manager in the charity sector. With a degree in Art and Philosophy, plus postgraduate qualifications in Management and Information Systems, Nikki has a strong combination of creative and analytical expertise.

Core skills and competencies include:

  • University-Industry partnerships and brokerage
  • Strategy development and implementation
  • Multi-sector and multi-disciplinary programme management
Black and white portrait of Kathryn Burchell

Kathryn Burchell

Business Development

Loughborough University

Kathryn has extensive experience and expertise in knowledge exchange, working across all sectors and varying size of organisation.  Having a background in project and partnership management and qualified with a degree in business, she is highly proficient in fostering, securing funding and leading partnerships to enable effective knowledge transfer between industry, education and policy stakeholders. Core skills and competences include:

  • Programme management
  • Industry-academia knowledge exchange & innovation
  • Cross sector partnerships and funding
black and white portrait of Sarah Wheatley

Sarah Wheatley

Partnership Development Associate

Loughborough University

Sarah supports staff across Loughborough University to launch and manage Knowledge Transfer Partnerships. She leads the full process from application to delivery, managing our growing portfolio of successful partnerships.  Her previous work involves leading collaborations of public, private and voluntary sector organisations to support people affected by homelessness, children and young people, members of the armed forces and veterans.

Black and white portrait of Jack Connors

Jack Connors

Innovation Manager


Jack has developed and delivered innovation programmes across the sustainability, fashion and automotive, health and wellbeing sectors – working across business, government, higher education and third sector organisations to deliver innovative approaches to sustainable development throughout the UK and beyond. As Innovation Manager at UAL, Jack is now identifying new opportunities that enable a sustainable fashion and textiles industry fit for the future. Core skills and competencies include:

  • SME development
  • Cross sector partnerships
  • Programme development and management
Black and white portrait of Arantxa Echarte

Dr Arantxa Echarte

Innovation Manager


Arantxa is an academic and professional with more than ten years experience in arts and management. She is a Chartered Manager since 2013 and a specialist in a wide range of artistic disciplines. Since her experience as a KTP Associate of the first Fine Art KTP in the UK – Acme Studios and Central Saint Martins (2010-13) – she specialised in investigating and developing art related notions of Research, Development and Innovation for sectors such as HEI and the charity sector. Before joining UAL as an Innovation Manager, Arantxa was Research and Knowledge Exchange Officer at the Royal College of Art. Core skills and competences include:

  • Strategic research and project management
  • Knowledge of Research, Development and Innovation within the Arts and the Creative sector
  • Cross-sector partnerships and network building
Black and white portrait of Susan Bagwell

Sue Bagwell

Project Evaluator


Sue specialises in research on small business policy and practice. Key areas have included ethnic minority, migrant and refugee enterprise, the fast food sector, and creative industries.  Her experience includes over 20 years of evaluating a range of programmes and projects for the European Commission, central and local UK government, Research Councils, academic institutions, the private and not for profit sector. She is competent in the use of both qualitative and quantitative methodologies and believes in working with organisations to identify what has worked well and why, and to identify the lessons learnt that can help inform future practice. Her studies have frequently incorporated the development of policy documents and toolkits designed to provide practitioners with practical support in tackling complex issues.


Black and white portrait of Salah ud Din

Salah ud Din

Project Support Coordinator


Salah has over three years of experience working in Higher Education and reserch settings. Salah had previously worked at the LSE as an administrator in various roles focused on student services, research centre support, finance administration, organisation of events and dealing with Estates and IT. Salah has a degree in textile design and a graduate of Central Saint Martins (UAL), specialised in printed and woven textiles.

Core skills and competencies include:

  • Woven textiles, research to sample development
  • Finance administration
  • Research projects support
Black and white portrait of Luigi Galimberti

Luigi Galimberti

Project Manager


Luigi has nine years of experience in managing complex research, training and capacity building projects. He is a Chartered Manager (CMgr), and holds PRINCE2 Foundation, Practitioner and Agile Practitioner qualifications. Before joining UAL, Luigi was Research Manager at Tate, where he managed projects funded by UK Research and Innovation, and the EU programmes FP7 and Horizon 2020. He has degrees in sociology and arts management. He is also a Non-executive Director of the Res Artis Foundation, the world’s largest network of artist residencies.  Core skills and competences include:

  • Research and project management
  • Cross-sector partnerships and network building
  • Creative industries advisory