Speaker biographies

David McGowan, Counsel, Dentons UK and Middle East LLP (UK) - KEYNOTE DAY ONE

David McGowan is member of Dentons' Competition & Antitrust team with a particular focus on public and utilities procurement. He advises on the design and conduct of major procurements and often works at the interface between procurement law, competition law, state aid and regulation. He also has experience of a wide range of miscellaneous EU law issues including the legal implications of Brexit.  

He is ranked by the legal directories for both procurement and competition work and is described in the Chambers Legal Directory as having "…a forensic knowledge of the law and provides very pragmatic and on-the-money advice." He sits on the editorial board of the Public Procurement Law Review and has also co-authored sections of the leading textbook, "The Law of Utilities and Public Procurement (3rd edition)".

Elgar Straub, Managing Director, VDMA (Germany) - KEYNOTE DAY TWO

Elgar Straub is Managing Director of VDMA Textile Care, Fabric and Leather Technologies since 1995, and of VDMA Bavaria in Munich since 2000. With his long experience in the garment and leather technology fields he is one of the leading experts in this industry in Germany and beyond.

In addition, Elgar Straub headed VDMA Northrhine-Westfalia as Managing Director from 1995 to 2000. During this period, he was also in charge of the VDMA Liaison Office at the Federal Government in Bonn. Prior to that he gained his first experience as a manager in the Economic and Social Policy department before heading the Executive Management's office at the VDMA headquarters in Frankfurt/Main. He studied Political Science and Economics at the Lugwig Maximilians University in Munich, Germany and in parallel to his studies, was a research associate at Prof. Dr Eckart Zimmermann's chair at the University of Bundeswehr, Neubiberg near Munich. He started his career as a trainee in the field of security policy within the Directorate General of the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium. 

The focal point of Elgar Straub's activities for VDMA have always been strongly characterised by his representation of politico-economic interests, international economic development, internal organisation of the association as well as strategic consultancy.

Martin Cieslik, Head of Marketing & Business Development, Hohenstein Textile Testing Institute GmbH & Co. KG (Germany)

Martin Cieslik has been with Hohenstein since the beginning of 2013. Since 2016, as Head of Marketing & Business Development. he is responsible not only for Hohenstein's strategic brand management but also for marketing and public relations worldwide. In addition, as Deputy Head of International Sales, he is also responsible for international sales and the topic of market and competition monitoring.

Noël Deferm, General Manager, Hammer-IMS nv (Belgium)

Noël Deferm received his M.S. degree in Electrical Engineering and PhD in Electrical Engineering from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KU Leuven), Belgium in respectively 2008 and 2014. While working towards his Ph.D. degree, his main research focus was on millimeter-wave CMOS circuit design for wireless communication systems. Starting from 2014 he had been working full-time on a post-doctoral research programme on the commercialization of industrial sensing based on millimeter waves. In 2016 he co-founded the KU Leuven spin-off Hammer-IMS, having the vision to introduce clean and millimeter-wave-based sensor concepts in the field of inline quality measurement. Noël Deferm is currently CEO at Hammer-IMS. LRM, KU Leuven and the Gemma Frisius fund of KU Leuven are among the shareholders of Hammer-IMS.

Silke Brand-Kirsch, Executive Partner, Schlegel & Partner (Germany)

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.

Gary S. Selwyn, President and Founder, Green Theme Technologies (USA)

Gary S. Selwyn has been a pioneering innovator in the field of materials processing and process chemistry for over 30 years. A recipient of three R&D100 awards, Dr Selwyn has published over 80 technical papers and has over 30 issued or pending patents. 

Dr Selwyn holds a BSc in chemistry from the State University of New York at Albany, and a PhD in chemical physics from the University of California, Berkeley.  Dr Selwyn's previous employment includes IBM Research, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and APJET, an atmospheric plasma company that he founded. He is presently the founder and Green Theme Technologies, Inc.  (GTT), a venture-backed company that develops and licenses environmentally-friendly, dry finishing technology for textiles. GTT has a production facility in Pingzhen, Taiwan and its headquarters and R&D Centre in Albuquerque, NM.  GTT was awarded the Future Materials Award in 2014 for “The Most Innovative Small Business” and also won an R&D100 Award in 2014 together with Under Armour for the GTT water-free, PFC-free finishing technology.  Today, GTT is the only company to offer a combined, single-step water-free finishing and dyeing technology, an accomplishment that launches the textile industry towards its goal of zero discharge manufacturing. 

Felice Torrisi, Lecturer in Graphene Technology, Cambridge Graphene Centre, University of Cambridge (UK)

Dr Felice Torrisi is a University Lecturer in graphene technology in the University of Cambridge and Fellow of Trinity College.

He graduated at the University of Catania in Italy, followed by a research period at the Institute of Microelectronics and Microsystems of the Italian National Research Council, where he worked on di-block copolymers for phase-change memories.

He joined the Department of Engineering at Cambridge in October 2008 as a PhD student, then as a Schlumberger Research Fellow and finally as a Lecturer in 2014. He received the “Parmee Prize for Entrepreneurship” from Pembroke College and the “Science of Printing” Prize from the Institute of Physics. His research interests span from printed and flexible electronics to electronic textiles with graphene and 2D materials, with particular focus on wearable and implantable electronics.

Matthew Williams, Director of Business Development, The Haartz Corporation (USA)

Matthew Williams is the director of business development at The Haartz Corporation. Prior to joining The Haartz Corporation almost 20 years ago, Williams served as a research associate at Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico.

During his time at Haartz, Williams has worked in various areas with multiple responsibilities including: research and development engineer, research and development manager and now his current role as director of business development where he oversees all sales and R&D activities for the automotive exteriors and non-automotive businesses.

Matthew Williams received a Bachelor of Science in environmental engineering from the University of Florida in Gainesville and a Master’s of Science in material science from Clemson University in Clemson, South Carolina.

Samit Sadavarte, Manager, Advanced R&D, The Haartz Corporation (USA)

Samit Sadavarte is the Manager of Advanced R&D at The Haartz Corporation. In his 20 years with Haartz, Samit has developed and formulated various coatings for automotive and non-automotive requirements. He specializes in formulating PVC, Butyl Rubber, Urethane coatings and textile finishes.  

During his time at Haartz, Samit has worked in various areas with multiple responsibilities including: Technical Service, Color, Coatings Development and Purchasing and now in his current role as Manager of Advanced R&D he oversees material and new technology development activities for the automotive exteriors and non-automotive businesses.

Samit Sadavarte received his Bachelor of Chemical Engineering from University of Pune and a Masters of Chemical Engineering from University of Massachusetts, Lowell.

Anne Schwarz-Pfeiffer, Researcher, Niederrhein University (Germany)

Professor Anne Schwarz-Pfeiffer lectures and performs research on functional and smart textiles at the Faculty of Textile and Clothing Technology / Niederrhein University of Applied Sciences in Moenchengladbach. Her interest in smart textiles arose during her Master studies and she deepened her knowledge on this discipline during her PhD research at Ghent University. Later on, she applied her knowledge when leading the working group smart textiles at the Institute of Textile Technology at RWTH Aachen. Her research activities are published in over 50 publications.

Bob Brookins, CEO, Alexium International (USA)

Dr Robert Brookins, Ph.D., M.A.E. B.A. B.Sc., is the chief executive officer at Alexium. Previously, Dr Brookins worked as the company’s vice president of research and development. He has more than 15 years of experience in organic synthesis and materials chemistry. Prior to joining Alexium, he worked at the Air Force Research Laboratory where he performed research related to chemical and biological warfare agents and material applications. At Alexium, Dr Brookins and his team pioneered new classes of flame retardants for key textile markets. Additionally, his research focuses on phase change materials, particularly novel application methods and analytical tools.

John Ellis, CTO, Devan (UK)

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Following a chemistry degree and PhD in polymer science, John Ellis worked for a UK government research laboratory before joining a small UK company specialising in chemical technologies for the textile industry in 1990, becoming the Technical Director. In 2005 he and Devan Chemicals (of Belgium) bought that UK company and the Devan group has since grown to be an important chemical innovation supplier to the global textile industry.

In 2010 Dr Ellis became the CEO of the Devan Group (4 operating companies in Belgium, UK, Portugal and US); in 2013 he was involved in the management buy-out of Devan with the support of a private equity company, Pentahold. In 2017 he became the Technical Director of the group, handing over to a new CEO.

Dr Ellis retains overall responsibility for the technical, innovation and patenting activities of the Devan group and its partners throughout the world.

Myriam Vanneste, R&D Manager, Centexbel (Belgium)

Dr Myriam Vanneste obtained a PhD in polymer chemistry at the Catholic University of Leuven (KULeuven) - Belgium.  In 1994 Dr Vanneste started a postdoctoral thesis at Centexbel (Belgian Textile Competence Centre) in cooperation with the KULeuven regarding the use of compatibilised PP/PA blends in textiles.

1997-2006: research scientist at Centexbel in the domain of yarn engineering working on subjects like heatsetting, spin-finish, texturing, yarn uniformity, hydrophilic/hydrophobic yarn/tapes and so on. In these projects a lot of effort was taken in setting up techniques for measuring various yarn properties such as crimp and shrinkage, diameter, entanglements (assessment of yarn uniformity), friction, and contact angle.

From 2006 to today, Dr Vanneste is R&D Manager in the coating & finishing of textiles division: “Textile Functionalisation & Surface Modification”. Key topics are amongst others sustainable coatings and additives, energy friendly processes and smart coating & printing.

Patrick Cronin, Technical Director, Mica NanoTech (MNT) Ltd (Ireland)

Dr Patrick Cronin graduated in 2009 with a Mechanical Engineering degree from the University of Limerick in Ireland. He gained his PhD through developing a coating technology for incorporation of nanoparticles into polymeric surfaces with a focus on antimicrobial applications, leading to granting of patent in 2011.

Dr Cronin has been cited in international peer reviewed journals, and book chapters. He spent two years with Analog Devices International, developing engineering systems for processing of thin film coatings and laminate layers of novel materials for semiconductor devices. His more recent research is in process modelling and control systems of particulate and theranostic systems for companies such as Johnson & Johnson in the Solid State Pharmaceutical Center (SSPC) and the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Technology Center (PMTC). In 2017, he spent time on secondment in the world renowned Center for Structured Organic Particulate System (CSOPS) at Rutgers University, NJ USA.

Dr Cronin is Technical Director and co-founder of Mica NanoTech (MNT) Ltd, who deliver process coating technology to the global textile industry. He currently lectures in University of Limerick on Manufacturing Technology and Industrial Organisation.

Ralf Lungwitz, Researcher Functionalisation & Chemical Analytics, Saxon Textile Research Institute (STFI) (Germany)

Dr Ralf Lungwitz completed chemistry studies at TU Chemnitz where he obtained his diploma and PH-D in polymer chemistry and continued there as a researcher.

Dr Lungwitz currently conducts research on surface functionalisation and composites. 

Jürgen Hanel, Head of Technology Technical Textiles,  Monforts Textilmaschinen GmbH & Co. KG (Germany)

Jürgen Hanel is a chemical engineer for polymers and has worked in the development of polymer materials for the textile industry for 26 years. For the past 17 years Jürgen Hanel has worked in the coating field, developing new machines for coating and has patents for a modular coating head.

Deborah Maxwell, MEng, Chartered UK Patent Attorney, European Patent Attorney, Potter Clarkson (UK)

Deborah Maxwell obtained a Masters degree in Product Design Engineering from The University of Glasgow and Glasgow School of Art. During her studies, Deborah undertook courses in Mechanics of Materials and Structures, Advanced Material Technology, Electrical Power Engineering and Microeconomics in Consumer Products.
In her final year, she worked with the governmental research body Marine Scotland Science (MSS), who act to keep marine and coastal environments clean and safe, to develop a portable sediment trap. The trap enables seasonal monitoring of naturally falling particles in small water bodies and is portable for a single user to deploy. The Scottish Government took up the idea and collaboration between MSS and Glasgow School of Art is ongoing.
Deborah joined Potter Clarkson's Design and Engineering Group in December 2011 and handles patent and design matters in a range of engineering fields from the simplest mechanical invention to the latest textile technology.

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.

Matthew Tipper, Business Director, 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.

Vladimir Rassushin, Chief Scientific Officer, Nanopharma (Czech Republic)

Vladimir Rassushin started his career in the Kurchatov Institute, Moscow, where he gained scientific experience with both nonwovens and electrospinning. He then continued extending his experience working in biotech and nanomaterials companies on product development programs utilizing advanced materials.

In Nanopharma, Vladimir Rassushin leads the company’s R&D pipeline development as well as working closely with industrial partners on integration of nanofiber-solutions into their innovation efforts. Nanopharma is a Czech SME specialized on developing, upscaling and commercializing products and technology platforms in the field of nanofibrous materials and composites. Nanopharma’s recent launch, [n]fibrecare – a dry sheet nanofibre mask – won 2018’s edition of FutureNow Start Up Awards.

George Kellie, Direcot, Kellie Solutions Ltd (UK)

Dr George Kellie is chairman of KellieTechnologies™, a leading UK marketing and technology company.   Dr Kellie’s businesses have been in existence for nearly 20 years and have a strong reputation and expertise in composites, nonwovens, plastics, and sustainability strategies. 
In the field of nonwovens materials, KellieTechnologies™ has been particularly active, working on specific applications and generating detailed market assessment and data. Recent work has included submissions on nanotechnology to the UK House of Lords Science & Technology Committee. In the automotive field, Kellie Solutions have been active in areas as diverse as engineered thermoformed components, use of bioplastics and recycled materials, and composite materials for thermal and acoustic insulation.
In packaging Dr Kellie has published a series of ground-breaking reviews on Nonwovens in Packaging.

William C. (Bill) Smith, Conference Director, Principal, Industrial Textile Associates (USA)

Bill Smith has over 45 years involvement in the textile industry in product and market development, sales, marketing and market management. He founded Industrial Textiles Associates (ITA) in 1986 and is the founder and developer of the International Conference on Textile Coating and Laminating, which has now been running for over 27 years.

Adrian Wilson, Conference Chair, Technical Textiles International magazine and Smart Textiles and Nanotechnology (UK)

Long-time industry specialist Adrian Wilson has written and edited numerous technical textiles and nonwovens and related publications as well as industry reports. He currently writes for Sustainable Nonwovens and Technical Textiles International and edits Smart Textiles and Nanotechnology.