The true value of materials: BRIDGE (Building Research and Innovation Deals for the Green Economy)

Joan Farrer, Carolyn Watt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Assessing the value of materials, lifecycle and applications was central to the European Union INTERREG IV project BRIDGE (Building Research and Innovation Deals for the Green Economy) 2011–2014. Here, the complex philosophies of sustainability (protection of people, profit and planet) underpinned innovation, knowledge transfer, data visualization and design thinking, to develop green entrepreneurs, and market differentiation in Southern England and Northern France Channel regions.

The model followed transdisciplinary collaborative research methods resulting in ‘green best practice’, which was visualized and disseminated extensively via digital technologies, mixed media and exhibitions. Information generated by the research was debated and shared at cross-channel conferences, business-to-business, incubation events, workshops and research exchange visits focussing on two materials: textiles and wood, sourced in the UK and France. Partners came from universities, regional authorities, non-governmental organisations and business communities to discuss the economic, environmental and societal value of these regional materials and innovative proofs of concept, eco and sustainable design products, processes, services and material experiments were generated from this collaborative peer learning, community of practice approach.

More sustainable proof of concept products and systems were developed by knowledgeable practitioners which embody an understanding of green business, where the philosophical rationales and complexity of ethics, climate change and waste issues, for example, were communicated through materials and objects to expert and non-expert audiences and consumers. This embodiment and honest communication of knowledge in a product is a unique selling point, creating market value and consumer differentiation through narrative. Stakeholders exchanged complex data, methods and ideas towards developing green employment opportunities, informing a research theme for UK and EU funders to the year 2020 and beyond.

This is a descriptive narrative on the evolvement of the project which enables incisive, reflective and theoretical analysis to take place simultaneously in other publishing areas to assess the longer term impact and value of BRIDGE in subsequent transdisciplinary projects. This work contributes to literature on value and use of materials with a focus on collaboration, design, innovation, applied research and societal benefit to develop green employment.
Original languageEnglish
Article number10 (2015)
JournalTextiles and Clothing Sustainability
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sept 2015


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