University of Oregon announces sustainable textile facility near new Portland campus

The University of Oregon on Monday announced a new sustainable textile facility near its new Northeast Portland campus.

The facility is part of an academic partnership with NTX, a Singapore-based company that makes textiles with waterless dying technology, which is more environmentally friendly than traditional methods. The multimillion-dollar facility will create a few dozen jobs, further cement Portland’s reputation as a hotbed of the sportswear industry and could attract other research and development facilities.

The facility will be known as the NTX Portland Bridge Innovation Lab in Partnership with the University of Oregon. The supply chain company Luenthai also is partnering with NTX.

The partnership, which doesn’t have a financial component, will make NTX technology available to University of Oregon students.

The University of Oregon last year purchased the former Concordia University campus in Northeast Portland. It’s expected to open next academic year and house programs currently in the White Stag building in Old Town.

The new NTX facility will be located near the Northeast Portland campus, but a site hasn’t been selected yet, said Ellen Schmidt-Devlin, cofounder and executive director of the university’s Portland-based Sport Product Management program, who helped pitch Luenthai representatives on siting the facility in Portland.

She said Boston also was considered.

Schmidt-Devlin expects the facility to be more than 10,000 square feet and employ a few dozen workers. She also said it could prompt other companies to locate research and development offices in Portland, which is an industry hotbed.

“The product creation teams that used to travel to Asia and work on products with companies over there, that’s not going to happen anymore,” Schmidt-Devlin said. “People are not going to travel like that. You’ve got to come here.”

There are around 800 athletic and outdoor companies in Oregon, according to Prosper Portland, the city’s economic development agency, including several focused on making products more sustainably, such as Hilos, which makes 3D-printed footwear, and Unless Collective, which makes plant-based streetwear. The Sustainable Fashion Forum also calls Portland home.

Last year, NTX announced Adidas, which has its North American headquarters in Portland, as its first big customer.

Schmidt-Devlin said the new facility will have machines that can cut, dye and sew textiles, which will help Portland’s large roster of apparel companies develop more sustainable products and get them to market quicker. It also will be able to do small runs of products.

The facility “underscores Oregon’s emergence as a global epicenter for athletic and outdoor innovation,” Hisham Muhareb, founder of The Materials Shows, which hosts trade shows in Portland and Boston, wrote in a direct message.

Students in the Portland-based Sports Product Management and Sports Product Design graduate programs, as well as students in Eugene-based programs, will have access to the facility.

The NTX dying process uses 90% less water, 65% less energy and 40% less dye than other manufacturing techniques, according to data cited by NTX from the Higg Index, which measures the environmental impact of various materials.

“It’s a sustainable process,” Schmidt-Devlin said. “It makes beautiful products, and it makes sustainable performance products.”

The university and NTX are hosting a signing ceremony for the partnership on Wednesday night.

Source:The Oregonian/