Speaker Biographies

Adrian Wilson, Conference Chair, Technical Textiles International magazine and Sustainable Nonwovens (UK)

Long-time industry specialist Adrian Wilson has written and edited numerous nonwovens and related publications including Nonwovens Report International. He currently writes for Sustainable Nonwovens and Technical Textiles International and edits Smart Textiles and Nanotechnologies.

Heinz Meierkord, CEO, Advansa Marketing GmbH and outgoing President, CIRFS (Germany) KEYNOTE ONE

Dr Meierkord obtained a PhD in Chemistry at the University of Muenster, Germany. Having worked in R&D and as Technical Manager at DuPont de Nemours, Germany, he had various positions at DuPontSA/Sabanci in Germany, the Netherlands and Turkey, finally becoming CEO of the renamed Advansa Group.  Dr Meierkord has also served as President of IVC (German, Austrian, Swiss man-made fibre industry association) and President CIRFS (Association of European man-made fibre producers) until 2017.


Matthew North, Commercial Director, Kelheim Fibres GmbH (Germany) KEYNOTE TWO

Matthew North began his career in fibres in the acetate yarn division at Courtaulds in 1983. In 1995 he moved to Düsseldorf where he worked in the Courtaulds Sales Office selling acetate to the silk weaving industry.

Following his return to the UK he was appointed Sales Manager for the Acetate Business and continued in this role until 1992 when he moved to Bremen to set up a distribution centre for the Courtaulds Aerospace coatings business.

After the formation of the European Fibres joint venture between Courtaulds and Hoechst in 1994 he was appointed Sales Manager for the viscose business, based in Kelheim in southern Germany. His initial responsibility covered the textile business, and in 2003 responsibility for the nonwovens and tampon businesses were added.

Since then he has gathered extensive experience developing business and introducing new products in international markets, as Kelheim Fibres has continued to specialise its product portfolio and shift the focus of its business from textiles to nonwovens and hygiene products.

His current title is Commercial Director, and he is responsible for the Sales and Marketing of all viscose products produced by Kelheim, as well as for Technical Customer Service and Distribution.


Silke Brand-Kirsch, Executive Partner, Schlegel und Partner (Germany) KEYNOTE THREE

Ms Silke Brand-Kirsch has a degree in Business Administration and is the founding member of Schlegel and Partners, currently focusing on nonwovens and technical textiles, chemical and the corresponding industry sectors, such as operating materials, hygiene and healthcare. Ms Brand-Kirsch is an expert in opportunities and success factors for market penetration, increased market share, distribution channels and strategic development. Prior to the executive partnership, Ms Brand-Kirsch managed the department for technical consumables and services which focussed on market intelligence and consultation along the value chains for nonwovens, tissue products and the chemical industry.  Before Schlegel and Partmers, Ms Brand-Kirsch gained several years of experience at Freudenberg Group. 


Thomas Weigert, Director Application Technology, Trützschler Nonwovens & Man-Made Fibers GmbH (Germany) KEYNOTE FOUR

Thomas Weigert obtained a degree in mechanical engineering at Darmstadt Technical University in August 1989 and started his professional life in the design and development of automotive brake systems before entering into the nonwoven industry.

Since 1997 Mr Weigert has been working at Trützschler Nonwovens, the former Fleissner GmbH, in Egelsbach near Frankfurt/Germany, who is one of the leading suppliers of nonwoven production lines and machinery.

For more than 20 years in various positions he gained wide experience in the design and development of nonwoven production equipment and also in the technological requirements for nonwoven substrates. Today in the position as Director Application Technology Mr Weigert holds technological responsibility for Fleissner AquaJet, Through Air Drying and Wetlaid Spunlace (WLS).


Ania Krolak, Senior Consulting Manager, Smithers Pira (UK)

Ania Krolak joined the Consultancy Team of Smithers in March 2018. Prior to that, she was Senior Consultant with Pöyry Management Consulting in London, Head of Business Intelligence of Ciba Expert Services (now Smithers) in Leatherhead, and Head of Eastern European Research with the consulting arm of Applied Market information in Bristol. Ania holds an MA degree from University of Warsaw.

Ania Krolak has over 20 years’ experience in strategic and new business development consultancy projects, the majority spent on the packaging assignments, with particular expertise in consumer flexible packaging.
She has a strong track record of leading business and market intelligence projects focusing on strategic market analysis, market and technology trend forecasting, market entry, substitution trends, new product commercialisation and commercial due diligence and M&A assignments across a wide variety of industries (e.g. packaging, food, beverage, thermoplastic films, etc).

Ania has worked in Europe, North America, South America and Asia for a wide variety of blue chip industrial clients as well as financial investors (private equity firms and banks).


Liliana Berezkinová, CEO & Co-Owner, Nanopharma (Czech Republic)

Liliana Berezkinová co-founded Nanopharma, a Czech SME that is pioneering the use of biomimetic nanofibers across healthcare and consumer markets. The company works closely with manufacturers on development, upscaling and integration of nanofiber-based membranes and functional systems into their product portfolios. Moreover, Nanopharma is one of the first European companies to launch proprietary nanofiber products. 
Liliana‘s passion lies in innovation in both science and entrepreneurship. She co-founded and continues supporting numerous Czech innovation clusters (Nanoprogress, CzechImplant). Apart from her own business activities, she also developed and led Young Business – a project from the Czech Association of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises  (AMSP ČR) that helps young entrepreneurs in the early stages of their business venture. She lectures on innovation and business models in Prague. 


Matthew Tipper, Business Director, Nonwovens Innovation & Research Institute Ltd (NIRI) (UK) 

With a 1st Class honours and PhD in Textiles from the University of Leeds, Matthew Tipper has worked in the nonwovens and technical textiles industry for several leading companies over the last 20 years. He has direct experience of the design, development and manufacture of both single-use and durable nonwoven materials. With a commercial background in manufacturing and nonwoven product development, as Business Director he manages a team of technical textile scientists and is responsible for innovation, product development and project management at NIRI. NIRI is an industrial research and development consultancy focused on helping its clients improve their profitability through product development and problem solving, new application identification and market intelligence as well as bespoke practical training.


James Docherty, Application Development Specialist, Technical Absorbents Ltd (UK)

James Docherty has worked in the nonwovens industry for the past 8 years.  As part of the Technical Absorbents Ltd team he has worked with their unique Super Absorbent Fibre (SAF), developing numerous novel uses for the fibre within many different and varied application areas.
James trained as a Chemist at the University of York, graduating with a Master’s Degree in Chemistry.  He has since spent the last 15 years working in process, product and application development, bringing a technical and methodical approach to development work.


Mark Smith, R&D Manager, Fibre Extrusion Technology (UK)

Mark Smith works as the R&D Manager for Fibre Extrusion Technology based in Leeds, UK.

The company specialises in the development, design and manufacture of processing equipment to produce technical fibres for both biomedical and industrial applications. The R&D team at FET conduct processing trials and investigations to assist clients in their development of new polymers and fibrous products. They also have a very active programme of in-house research projects to extend our processing capabilities and equipment development.

Mark’s background is in Chemical Engineering and he has more than 20 years experience in process development and engineering. He previously worked for Smith & Nephew at their research centre at York, UK., focussed on the development of implantable medical devices for tissue repair.


Marion Sterner, Advance Development of R&D, Gruppo X di X Gruppo srl (Italy)

Marion, working in the Advance Development of R&D, is a shareholder in Gruppo X di X Gruppo srl, a company generating patents on innovations in the packaging and mainly paper sector, developing them with industrial partners and licensing patents, know-how and technology. She is co-author of the base patents of Gruppo X’s developments and has been working since 1990 in the field of process and material innovation. Main Gruppo X’s licencees are, among others, BillerudKorsnas, Nippon Paper Industries, BP Europack (today Amcor Flexibles). Marion holds degrees in architecture from Germany and Italy.


Jérôme VilleCEO, Fibroline SA (France)

Jérôme Ville has worked with Fibroline in various roles over the past 12 years, from product development, new technology business development, technology transfer, and now as CEO. His current role involves general management of the company, definition and implementation of the company strategy with the Board of Directors, directing business development, sales and negotiation of license agreements, marketing and communication.


Liana Sinowzik, Scientific Staff, Centre of Excellence in Nonwovens, Sächsisches Textilforschungsinstitut e.V. (Germany)

After completing a degree in Engineering and obtaining a M.Sc, Liana Sinowzik worked at H.I.A.T in Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology and then in Biochemical and Thermochemical Conversion for DBFZ in Leipzig. Since 2013 Liana Sinowzik has worked in the Centre of Excellence in Nonwovens at STFI.


Karim Behlouli, Director General, EcoTechnilin (France)

Karim Behlouli graduated from ENSAIT as a textile engineer, and started working at Asselin-Thibeau, a leading European supplier of complete turn key nonwoven lines. Mr Behlouli worked in the three areas of 
sales demonstration on a pilot line with different fibres, start up of lines with customer training training all over the world as well as research and development. In 2006 he joined Technilin, a small company in the automotive market with nonwoven made of natural fibres/ PP and Glass Fibres/ PP, becoming General Manager in 2009 when the company was bought and renamed Eco-Technilin.

Karim Behlouli is now the CEO of Flax Unit from Cap Seine group which produces nonwovens, wovens, UD (dry and impregnated), yarns and flax sliver in four different companies in Poland and France.


Robin Michiels, Sales & Business Development, Hammer-IMS nv (Belgium)

Before working at Hammer-IMS, Robin Michiels previously gained experience at ABB, Fabricom and Elia. The central thread in Robin Michiels's career so far is project management, which involves driving and motivating technical teams. Over the years he has also been active in technical sales support which led to taking on sales positions. With this experience, the time was right to make the change into the high-tech environment at Hammer-IMS, where there is a level of sales being technology and engineering driven.


Marcus Reimann, Sales Director Nonwovens, Herrmann Ultrasonic (Germany)

Marcus Reimann holds a Diploma Degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Applied Sciences in Mannheim. After many years in the chemical industry, mainly handling largescale polymer reaction operations and their optimization, Marcus Reimann recently joined his leading management position at Herrmann Ultrasonic. His key role is the coordination of the worldwide activities of the Nonwovens Business Unit regarding sales, new innovative projects, technical applications, business development and the handling of Global Key Accounts. Marcus and his team act as a link between product management and the market.


Christian Lenges, Business Development, Du-Pont Industrial Biosciences (USA)

Christian Lenges is Business Development Manager for BioMaterials in DuPont Industrial BioSciences, leading the development and launch of emerging and growth businesses to make industrially important chemicals and materials from renewable feedstocks.  Extended experience in a variety of businesses and functions in DuPont including product development and portfolio management with special focus on venture leadership. Leadership roles in DuPont’s efforts in Biomaterials since 2008, in the Sorona® business and business development to select and develop the current industry-leading biomaterials portfolio approaching commercial launch.

Christian Lenges obtained a Diploma Degree from the Heinrich Heine University in Duesseldorf, and a Ph.D. in Chemistry and Catalysis from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA.


Sören Butz, European Technical Service Manager Textiles, Synthomer Deutschland GmbH (Germany)

Dr Sören Butz obtained his PhD in macromolecular science in 1999 from the Technical University Clausthal, Germany. He joined the former PolymerLatex in the same year and started his career as R&D Manager. Further stations led him to global management roles in Technical Service and Application Technology for the business segments Health & Protection, Adhesives, Construction and Textiles.

From 2009 to 2012 he worked in Malaysia as Director of Marketing, Sales and Application Technology and was a member of the startup team new world scale NBR plant.

Since 2016 he has led the Technical Service for the Textile & Fiber bonding business.

Dr Sören Butz is the author of several publications and conference papers on various aspects of polymer synthesis, synthetic latices and their applications.



Darren Mitchell, Partner, Potter Clarkson LLP (UK)

Darren Mitchell is a patent and design attorney and litigator from Potter Clarkson LLP, a full-service European Intellectual Property (IP) law firm which provides expert legal advice to clients ranging from local entrepreneurs to SMEs and global corporations.  The law firm works across a wide range of industry and technology sectors, with Darren having particular expertise in securing protection for textile and garment innovations and their associated manufacturing processes. 


Christian Möbitz, Scientific Researcher, Institut für Textiltechnik der RWTH Aachen University (Germany)

Christian Möbitz studied Mechanical Engineering with a focus on plastics technology at RWTH Aachen University, Germany. After his degree in 2014, he joined the “Institut für Textiltechnik’s” department of Spinning Preparation / Nonwoven Technology. His focus is on digitalization, energy efficiency, electronical functionalization and new materials. Christian Möbitz is currently tasked with research and development projects in the field of pneumatic fibre transport, functionalized carbon fibre nonwoven development as well as process and fibre development. His PhD-Thesis will be finished in 2019, discussing possibilities for increased energy efficiency of pneumatic fibre transport systems.


Harri Kiiskinen, Principal Scientist, VTT, Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd (Finland) 

Harri Kiiskinen works in the biomass processing and product research area. He has more than 20 years of experience in R&D projects related to paper and boardmaking processes such as forming and drying technologies and paper physics. Currently he is a project manager in a large consortium project (3 a, 4.5 M€, 33 member companies) in which new foam formed fibre based products are developed.