The Lead Market Initiative for Europe was launched by the European Commission in December 2007.
On the basis of stakeholder consultations, six markets have been identified against a set of objective criteria: eHealth, sustainable construction, recycling, bio-based products, renewable energies and protective textiles.
Technical textiles for intelligent personal protective clothing and equipment or protective textiles in short, are clothing and other textile-based systems which protect users from hazards and dangers in the conditions in which they operate such as civil and military emergency interventions or in hospitals and manufacturing environments that require insulation from bacterial and viral contamination.
The current size of the market in the EU is estimated at € 9.5-10 billion, with around 200,000 jobs directly or indirectly related to these products and services. The fast growth forecasted in certain parts of the world suggests that EU exports could grow by about 50% over the next 5-10 years.
For each lead market initiative, a plan of actions for the next 3-5 years has been formulated. Among the issues of specific concern for protective textiles are swifter development and use of European standards in the global market, which combined with appropriate measures for the protection of intellectual property would accelerate the increase in demand for protective textiles. Public procurement has an important role to play with regard to protective textiles, representing 100% of the market for certain product groups. However, budgetary constraints of public entities often result in short-term price focused purchasing that sacrifices other, long-term criteria. For more information, see the action plan for protective textiles .
The protective textiles lead market offers opportunities for the entire textile sector as spill-over effects from faster growing innovations in protective textiles to other market segments such as interior textiles or functional clothing would considerably increase the economic impact of the lead market, thus increasing the knowledge content and the added-value, contributing to a sustainable competitiveness of the entire textile sector.