A super-lightweight, fully down-proof, hard wearing fabric for high performance outdoor equipment and apparel; a prototype athlete's cooling jacket; and advanced moisture management garments for team sports - these were some of the innovative products presented at a seminar held as part of the Commonwealth Games business programme in Manchester.

Business people from across the region gathered in the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, on 26 July under the auspices of North West Textile Network and the North West Advanced Apparel Systems Centre.

The half-day event, in collaboration with the Commonwealth Games Business Club, focused on innovation and research and showcased leading NW textile and clothing companies who are helping the region become a European pacesetter in the industry.

The role of the North West Textile Network was outlined by Professor Dick Horrocks of the Bolton Institute.  The Network is funded by the NW Development Agency as a vehicle for driving forward initiatives affecting the textiles cluster in the north west.  This event was perceived as supporting the apparel sub-cluster.

Joanne Hornby and Kathryn Tramner presented on the evolution of Pertex and the launch of Pertex Quantum.  Working with UK, European and US partners, a whole new family of products is to be launched during the next year. The new fabric has achieved a 50 per cent reduction in weight and in packed volume than other products of comparable performance. 

Dr Ji-Young Ruckman, reader in clothing materials at the Department of Clothing Design and Technology at Manchester Metropolitan University, gave an overview of seven research projects in collaboration with industry. Dr Ruckman has pioneered methods of testing water permeability and thermal resistance of clothes. In 2000 her collaborative work with Therma-Float received a Millennium Product award from the British Design Council.

Puma, the official sports apparel supplier to all 637 England Team members, contributed to the event by providing Robert Warner, international teamsport designer.  Robert is a graduate of Manchester Metropolitan University and spent his industrial year working with NW England companies.  He spoke about the advanced technologies used in match day and training apparel, boots and accessories.

The North West Advanced Apparel Systems Centre was launched on 24 May this year to act as a business support centre for the clothing/textile industry in the north west. The centre is part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund and based in the Department of Clothing Design and Technology. The department is an international centre of excellence and the biggest fashion, business and technology education provider of higher education in Europe.