Speaker biographies

Amy Frascella
Director Colour & Materials Land Rover Design (UK) KEYNOTE

Leading the global, multi-disciplined Land Rover Colour & Materials team Amy directs programmes from Strategy to concept to production as well as Special Vehicle derivates and Bespoke & Personalisation work.

Q&A Panel Jaguar Land Rover

Louise Thorburn, Senior Colour and Material Designer, Jaguar (UK)
Specialism: Production and Advanced Design colour material program focus

Sarah Kate Fraser, Materials Innovation Engineer, Jaguar Land Rover (UK)
Specialism: Advanced materials engineering with specialism in textiles

Nicola Keers, Senior Sustainability Engineer, Jaguar Land Rover (UK)
Specialism: Interior body commodities

Title of presentation: Designing for a responsible future

Friedrich Suchomel 
Product Development, Lenzing AG (Austria)


Dr Friedrich Suchomel studied physical chemistry at the University of Regensburg where he achieved a PhD. After working as Project Manager at Schock & Co. GmbH, Dr Suchomel joined Lenzing AG in 2001 as Project Manager, Business Unit Textile / R&D.

From 2009–2013, he was Head of New Applications/Business Development and Innovation Textile Fibers and then became Segment Manager Technical Products/New Business Development.

Since 2017 Dr Suchomel is Project Manager Fiber Science and Textile Products/R&D.

Title of presentation: The Rinspeed concept car

Thomas Schmidt
Director of Innovation & Creation, Huafeng (China)


Dr Thomas Schmidt is Director of Innovation & Creation at Huafeng, based in Putian, China. He has a strong scientific background in chemistry and material science.  His PhD degree was awarded from the University of Wuerzburg for applied nanotechnology research in cooperation with the Fraunhofer Institute ISC and Siemens AG. His scientific work includes a PostDoc at the University of Durham, UK working on thin layer photovotaic solar cells. An international industrial career develped by assignments with adidas in China working on social and environmental affairs and later joining TIGER Coatings in Austria where he was leading the R&D and innovation team for many years. Since 2014 he joined Huafeng, a Chinese textile manufacturer supplying the global sport industry. His long years experience in coating industry and the exposure to sport and textile industry lead to new 3D coating solutions for textiles.

Title of presentation: HAPTIC additive 3D coatings for textiles

Deborah Maxwell
Senior Associate, Potter Clarkson LLP (UK)


A patent and design attorney in the Designs and Engineering team at Potter Clarkson, Deborah Maxwell is experienced in handling patent matters in a wide range of engineering fields, including textile manufacturing, garment design and automotive transmission assembly.  Deborah is practiced in drafting patent specifications, prosecuting patent applications through to grant, managing patent and registered design portfolios that include foreign counterparts and advising on patent and registered design strategy.

Deborah Maxwell obtained a Masters degree in Product Design Engineering from The University of Glasgow and Glasgow School of Art before joining Potter Clarkson in 2011. During her studies, Deborah undertook courses in Mechanics of Materials and Structures, Advanced Material Technology, Electrical Power Engineering and Microeconomics in Consumer Products.

Title of presentation: Vehicles of the future – the road to effective collaboration

Ross Ward
New Business Development Manager, NIRI (UK)


Dr Ross Ward obtained a MSc and an EPSRC iCASE funded PhD from the University of Leeds and a BSc(Hons) in Sports Technology from Loughborough University. His PhD was focused on developing novel materials for military Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and High Yield Explosive (CBRNe) protective clothing and was sponsored by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL).

Dr Ward has also gained experience as an Innovation Consultant, working with the UK Fire and Police Services and his main interests are automotive, defence and medical innovation. With over 7 years’ experience, managing grant, consultancy and collaboration projects, Ross is responsible for new business development at NIRI - Nonwoven Innovation Research Institute.

Title of presentation: Particle inclusion technology for enhanced cabin air filtration

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.

Title of presentation: E-mobility and its impact on textiles and nonwovens

Raquel Ledo Bañobre
Head of Materials Innovation Area CTAG – Automotive Technology Centre of Galicia (Spain)


Raquel Ledo Bañobre has a MSc in Telecommunication Engineering, with a degree in Research Proficiency and Advanced Studies, and a Masters in Automobile Enterprises Management from the University of Vigo. With more than 16 years’ experience, Raquel Ledo is currently working as Head of the Materials Innovation Area in CTAG (Automotive Technology Centre of Galicia). Before joining CTAG, Raquel Ledo worked as Continuous Improvement and Development Manager in Prevent Vigo S.A., a textile seat covers automobile supplier for 2 years. Then she went on to work at PSA Peugeot Citröen France and Spain as Assistant Body‐in‐White Manager for 3 years, coinciding with the launch of Citröen C4 Picasso and Citröen Berlingo/Peugeot Partner.

For the last 10 years, Raquel Ledo has been using her project management experience for R&D project management at CTAG and to date has been directly involved in more than 20 collaborative projects at European level.

Title of presentation: Novel textiles for thermal comfort and sensing aimed at the automotive sector

Marek Jancik
Automotive Manager Bcomp Ltd (Switzerland)


Marek Jancik, Automotive Manager at Bcomp Ltd., and in the lead of development- and implementation projects together with global OEMs. Marek has a solid engineering background as a M.Sc. of Materials Science & Engineering from the Swiss Institute of Technology Lausanne, Switzerland (EPFL) and from the Structures and Composite Materials Laboratory in McGill University, Canada, as well as having worked as a research engineer at EPFL for e.g. drones and aerospace projects. He has also co-founded the multiple-award winning startup TWIICE, developing robotic exoskeletons for rehabilitation and mobility assistance.

Title of presentation: Reducing weight and consumption of plastics with a novel sustainable technology

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. He has been sited in international peer reviewed journals, and book chapters. He spent 2 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. He 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.

Title of presentation: A novel finishing process for improved automobile interior hygiene by particle binding to fabric and surface interfaces

Paul Stollberger
Member of the Board Kobleder GmbH (Austria)


Paul Stollberger joined Kobleder in 2012 as a textile engineer. Kobleder is a family-run textile innovator from Austria, now in its 4th generation. Mr. Stollberger now holds the position as Board member, responsible for developing and executing projects along with its customers, which come from various industries such as furniture, automotive, aviation, consumer electronics or personal protective equipment. Before joining Kobleder, Paul Stollberger studied mechanical engineering in Graz, Austria as well as mechatronics and economics at FH Wels, Austria.

Title of presentation: 3D flat-knit fabrics suitable for car interiors

Laura Kunze
Project Manager Colour & Trim Development, imat-uve gmbh (Germany)


Laura Kunze joined imat-uve in June this year as project management colour and trim development. Ms Kunze is lead project manager for the Interreg project "Recycling the Future Automotive Interior" and has direct cooperation with the development departments and system suppliers as well as tracking of individual stages of development and general quality control of series production. Previously Laura Kunze worked at TWS in the design and development of customer-oriented interior design concepts for the automotive industry as well as other positions as textile designer and colour management advisor.

Title of presentation: Recycling of mixed-fibre waste (Interreg project)

Virginia García
Director of Functional Textiles R&D Unit, EURECAT (Spain)

With a degree in Telecommunications from the University of Málaga (ETSI / UMA), Virginia García gained experience applying radiofrequency communication technologies (RFID) & design of functional textile structures and intelligent devices. Since 2007 she has worked at Eurecat, starting as a project manager of innovation projects, both in the private sector and in the field of public programmes. Ms García has participated as project manager in 3 European projects AAL/H2020 and 5 national/local projects, and currently leads a multidisciplinary team of textile engineers and technicians, fashion and industrial designers and materials and finishing engineers.Virginia García is also responsible for the Reimagine Textile initiative, inside of the frame of a FEDER founded project PECT Mataro-Maresme.

An experienced innovation manager, Virginia García has a deep understanding of the power of technology to innovate in the textile sector. She has experience providing industrial companies with innovative textile-based solutions. With her engineering background Virginia is able to combine the requirements of the project with opportunities from other disciplines like electronics, robotics, advanced manufacturing systems or smart management systems, also available in EURECAT.

Virginia García has led the Functional Textile Research Unit at EURECAT since 2015, and her focus is on the research and innovation for the textile ecosystem, both national and international. Reimagine Textile initiative is one of these challenges, the aim of which is to provide tools to the more conservative textile companies of the Catalan region to familiarise themselves with new technologies and the opportunities of innovation they can bring to their business model. Sustainability and circular economy are some of the main focus of this initiative.

Title of presentation: Smart textiles for automotive applications

Kathy Beresford
Group R&D Manager, Autins Group plc (UK)


Dr Kathy Beresford completed her PhD in Multichannel Automotive Audio at the Institute of Sound Recording, University of Surrey in 2010. Following 7 years working in local government conducting educational data analysis, modelling and interpretation alongside performance and project management, Kathy joined Autins Group in June 2015 to lead research and product development. In 2016, Kathy completed a postgraduate award in Innovative Business Leadership from the University of Warwick and established the Autins Group technical facilities at the Horiba MIRA Technology Park. This facility supports product development, testing and innovation for all Autins Group businesses. Kathy’s role is extremely varied and includes customer discussions on Autins products, supporting new customer projects and leading product development. She also participates in wider business discussions and strategic planning as part of the Autins Leadership team.  

Title of presentation: Acoustic modelling and material characterisation 

Mark Dohmen
Head of Global Competence Center Automotive & Synthetic Dyeing, Archroma (Germany)


Mark Dohmen obtained an M.Sc in Textile Engineering at the University Niederrhein, Mönchengladbach, Germany and an MBA at Fontainbleau in France. In 1997, Mr Dohmen set up his own company, M. Dohmen Group in Switzerland. In 2014 he established a joint venture with Archroma before joining the company as Head of Global Competence Center Automotive & Synthetic Dyeing in 2018.

Title of presentation: Long-lasting performance textiles to meet requirements of car-sharing development

Alice Swallow
Innovation Research Engineer, Ford Motor Company (UK) 

Alice Swallow is an Innovation Research Engineer within the UK Innovation team at Ford Motor Company looking predominantly at light-weighting for commercial vehicles. She started Ford as a Higher Apprentice in Engineering and has worked in various departments from gasoline calibration to Chassis Engineering.

Her remit with the Innovation and Research team is to project manage studies on light-weighting technologies and applications in design with mass production capability. This remit includes material choices from advanced steel to full composite structures, including hybrid technology to produce the best value for automotive applications. This includes leading the government funded CHASSIS Project (Composite Hybrid Automotive Suspension Systems Innovative Structures) with Innovate UK.

Alice has 2 patents pending on e-motor and tooling for multiple material selections. She won the Autocar Magazine ‘Great British Woman Apprentice of the year’ in 2018 and was runner up in the IMechE Apprentice of the year in 2018.

Alice has a First-Class Honours Degree from the University of Greenwich in the UK and is the Secretary for the IMechE in the South Essex Area.

Title of presentation: The opportunities and challenges for high-volume composite solutions

Mark Catchpole
Commercial Director, Conductive Transfers (UK)


Mark Catchpole is an E-textiles entrepreneur. Mark has 24 years in the electronics industry as a silicon chip designer, startup CEO, project manager, business developer and wearable tech consultant. Mark is now leading Conductive Transfers' business development after helping secure a manufacturing and supply agreement with Atlantic Therapeutics in 2018, with a track record of patented innovations in speech recognition, wearables and printed e-textiles.

Title of presentation: In coating electronics: printed heaters and sensors in leather coatings

Adrian Wilson
Conference Chair

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

Title of presentation: Preparing for total transformation - findings from the latest TMS Automotive Textiles Report