A business incubator with a major emphasis on technical textiles comes on stream this month at the heart of the UK's technical textiles sector.  

Called the-i-zone, the incubator has been purpose-built by Bolton Institute, a leader in technical textiles research, to help young companies get research findings out of the laboratory and into marketable, high-value products. 

It believes incubator companies will typically be led by researchers, technologists, inventors and entrepreneurs from the technical textiles sector, or they could be spin-offs from existing textiles-related companies.

They will be provided with access to specialist technical facilities and advice in the form of the Institute's research teams, laboratories and test facilities. And they will be able to develop vital business contacts through the North West's Textiles Industry Network (NWTexNet), which is also based at the Institute.

All i-zone companies will receive expert help in setting up and developing their businesses, from pre-business planning through to forming the company, developing and launching the new product, and then consolidating and growing the textiles business.  

The new technical textiles business incubator is configured into 12 office spaces of different sizes. It also has hot desks with computers and telephones for use by 'pre-businesses'. 

the-i-zone is managed by a joint venture company set up by Bolton Institute and its incubator partner, Campus Ventures, a specialist technology transfer company based in Manchester and operating throughout the North West. It is backed by the European Regional Development Fund and the DTI and is part of the North West Development Agency's (NWDA) strategy for the economic development of the region.