Aachen Reinforced! Web Event “COVID-19 and the composite industry: Impact and Outlook“

Aachen Reinforced! Web Event Copyright: © ITA  

On 26th October 2020, we held the first Aachen Reinforced! Web Event on the topic “COVID-19 and the composite industry: Impact and Outlook“. With over 70 participants in attendance from various industries across the globe, our expert panel discussed the lessons learned over the past year as well as their views on the future of the composite industry.

„The impact of COVID in Europe was severe, but we still have some areas which are doing quite well. The building and construction market, for example, is still up 3% from last year.” - Dr Michael Effing

Best described by Dr Michael Effing, the impact of the ongoing pandemic on the composite market has been severe. One sector exempt from this struggle is the building and construction market. The impact on the composites industry could not only be quantified by sector though, as Steve Bassetti from Michelman outlined that company structure and corporate governance also played a role in the fate of some companies, especially concerning ongoing R&D efforts. Steve states that as a family-owned company, Michelman can afford a longer-term outlook and hence stay committed to ongoing R&D efforts.

“As a family-owned company which can afford a longer-term outlook, Michelman has stayed committed to the ongoing R&D effort. But there is certainly a level of rationalisation and scrutiny to make sure that money is spent on the right projects.” - Steve Bassetti

On a global scale, Dr Jaap van der Woude could weigh in on the consequences of the pandemic with regards to R&D strategies. As observed across various markets outside of the composites industry, he expects that capital goods investments will be at a reduced level in the near future. While he also believes that contract research will be affected by the pandemic, public funded projects should go on as usual. This provides an excellent opportunity for industry to collaborate with academia on R&D projects in order to de-risk development and obtain support from leading research institutes across the world. The Institut für Textiltechnik (ITA) of the RWTH Aachen University is currently open for public funded R&D projects and is looking forward to assisting industry with funding applications.

“I expect that capital goods investments will be at a reduced level in the near future. I expect that contract research will be affected, but public funded projects should go on as usual.” - Dr Jaap van der Woude

Besides the impacts on R&D as well as the industry outlook, the future of networking and meetings was also discussed during the web event. Within just weeks, we had to learn to hold virtual meetings and organize R&D projects from the comofort of our homes. Business trips were cancelled and in-person meetings moved online. While some participants on the panel noted that this has streamlined their daily schedules, a consensus was found that personal contacts are vital for the industry. To enable business development as well as R&D planning, we must enable personal contacts in the near future while also adhering to all necessary safety measures. We are hoping that the Aachen Reinforced! Symposium in May 2021 will offer an in-person meeting platform for anyone who wishes to visit Aachen, while a virtual alternative will be provided should restrictions prevent some attendees from travelling to Aachen.

“I think that it is important that we find arrangements that allow more personal contacts again in the professional world.” - Dietmar Dieterle

We would like to thank our excellent panel of industry experts for the highly relevant and interesting discussion. Additionally we would like to thank all attendees for their engagement and questions. We hope to meet again in May 2021 for the Aachen Reinforced! Symposium.

For any questions regarding the web event or the symposium, please do not hesitate to contact us via