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On the afternoon of March 20, Riopele hosted the Open Day, an initiative co-organized by the IAPMEI (Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation), in partnership with Riopele, the CeNTI (Centre for Nanotechnology and Smart Materials) and CITEVE (Textile Technology).
Riopele’s Cash & Carry was turned into an immersive room to accommodate 300 guests, among which were the Secretary of State for Industry, Professor Teresa Lehmann, the President of the Vila Nova de Famalicão City Council, Paulo Cunha, the President of the IAPMEI, Engineer Jorge Marques dos Santos, and the Managing Director of CITEVE and CEO of the CeNTI, Engineer Braz Costa.
The main purposes of this initiative were to disseminate the projects that Riopele is developing in the area of technical and functional textiles and underline the importance of the collaboration between companies, technology centres, universities and other organizations.
First there was a speech by Riopele’s Chairman, José Alexandre Oliveira, who emphasized his belief in industry, Portugal and Europe, stating that, even in difficult times, he never stopped dreaming, running against the many who predicted “the death of the Portuguese textile industry”.
By analogy with the word that is used to refer to emerging companies – start-ups – he said that his grandfather, who founded Riopele in 1927, also began with a start-up, set up in a mill on the bank of the river Pele, in Pousada de Saramagos (Vila Nova de Famalicão).
Today, Riopele produces more than 700 thousand meters of fabric each month for leading international fashion brands and exports 96% of its production directly to more than 30 countries, making a positive contribution to the country’s trade balance.
Finally, José Alexandre Oliveira shared his satisfaction with the large number of people who took part in this initiative. Braz Costa and Jorge Marques dos Santos also delivered speeches in the opening session.
Then, the immersive visit entitled “Riopele, 90 years woven from Passion” began. A 180-degree video presentation allowed everyone present to “dive into” Riopele’s history and the work it is currently developing.
This journey across the factory was an innovative way to show the different stages of the vertical fabric manufacturing process implemented by Riopele. It also introduced aspects related to innovation and industry 4.0 as a preamble for the presentation that followed. Then, Albertina Reis, head of R&D at Riopele, José Morgado, from CITEVE, and Carla Silva, from the CeNTI, presented three research and development projects – Nano.Smart, R4Textiles and TexBoost –, developed by Riopele in partnership with CITEVE, the CeNTI, the Catholic University and the University of Porto.
Albertina Reis highlighted that the products resulting from these projects, which were launched in 2013, represented 2% of Riopele’s turnover in 2017, proving that the investment in sustainability, industry 4.0 and circular economy contributes to the growth of the company’s business.
Then there was a fashion show focused on the fabrics manufactured within the scope of these projects, with apparel made of 100% recycled fabrics created in collaboration with the designer Nuno Baltazar.
The Open Day ended with a speech by Ana Teresa Lehmann, who complimented Riopele and, in particular, José Alexandre Oliveira for believing and continuing to invest in Portugal, stressing that the textile industry is alive and kicking and has a future.