In conversation with HeiQ founders, Carlo Centonze and Dr. Murray Height
The Textile magazine|July 2020
In conversation with HeiQ founders, Carlo Centonze and Dr. Murray Height
“Antimicrobial fabric treatments will be a big part of our future”

Founded in 2005 as a spin-off from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH), HeiQ is a leader in textile innovation, creating some of the most effective, durable and high-performance textile technologies in the market.

Founded in 2005 as a spin-off from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH), HeiQ is a leader in textile innovation, creating some of the most effective, durable and high-performance textile technologies in the market.

HeiQ – pronounced [’ haikju] – stands for the “hike” on which Carlo Centonze and Dr. Murray Height, the two company founders, came up with the HeiQ idea. “HeiQ” also stands for High Quality Materials and for IQ – intelligent materials. The two founders met at ETH and became friends. On a hike in the Swiss mountains, after five days their companions started keeping their distance because of the two friends’ smelly outdoor clothes. This was the inspirational kick the two entrepreneurs needed for developing a new textile odor control technology, HeiQ Fresh, and founding the company HeiQ. Today, HeiQ Fresh is used on more than 500 million garments worldwide, by world-renowned brands like Patagonia, Burton, Hanes, New Balance, Odlo and Mammut.

HeiQ is driven by the spirit of innovation and over years continued to develop new products and textile technologies. HeiQ’s goal is to improve the lives of billions of people by perfecting an everyday product: Textiles. Combining three areas of expertise – scientific research, specialty materials manufacturing and consumer ingredient branding – HeiQ helps partners brands to innovate and create differentiating and sustainable textile products.

HeiQ’s headquarters are in Switzerland and subsidiaries in USA, Australia, China, Portugal, and Taiwan. With an annual manufacturing capacity of 35,000 tons at sites in the USA, Switzerland, and Australia, HeiQ serves its specialty chemical technologies to over 1,000 textile mills in over 60 countries worldwide. The company works with a local sales force and distribution partners around the world to be able to talk to local customers at eye level in their own language.

In an exclusive chat, the founders spoke on a host of topics, including the company’s products, key global markets, its antimicrobial solutions, and presence in India, among others.

We began by asking the founders about the range of products and solutions that HeiQ offers, to which Carlo Centonze replied: ”HeiQ has become synonymous with innovation in textiles. HeiQ has a range of key textile technologies that enhance the fabric materials of our clients with comfort and safety enhancing functionalities, e.g. adding antiviral and antimicrobial protection, activated cooling, odor control, air cleaning functionality, eco-friendly water repellency or UV protection, to describe just a few. HeiQ technologies focus on making textiles more functional, such as our latest innovation HeiQ Viroblock NPJ03 which adds an antiviral function to textiles, more comfortable and more sustainable.”

“HeiQ’s activated cooling technology HeiQ Smart Temp is very popular in the sportswear industry, especially for next-to-skin items. Today, HeiQ Smart Temp provides 900 million garments per year with the ability to effectively respond to temperature conditions and achieve optimal cooling and comfort. This year, HeiQ Smart Temp has gained additional popularity as treatment for the inside layer of face masks. While HeiQ Viroblock makes the mask fabrics resistant to viruses and bacteria, HeiQ Smart Temp provides wearers with cooling and comfort. Feeling hot while wearing a face mask is one of the main reasons that people wear their masks incorrectly, e.g. just covering the mouth, not the nose. PFC-free HeiQ Eco Dry, an eco-friendly water repellent widely used in Patagonia, Burton and The North Face outdoor jackets, is now also used in the outer layer of facemasks,” he added.

Before launching a new product into a market, HeiQ makes sure it complies with all applicable regulations. HeiQ is ZDHC and Oeko-Tex conform and a bluesign systems partner of the earliest hour, a holistic system that stands for sustainable textile processing and manufacturing. HeiQ is motivated to achieve greener, more sustainable chemistry and new processes that help textile mills use less water and energy, while also saving time and cost, and increased output to provide them with the economic benefit to improve community wellbeing outside of the textile world.

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July 2020