Medical protective equipment

© adobe.stock.com/Sherry Young

Today, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Peter Altmaier will hand over the first approval notice within the framework of the recently launched funding programme for the manufacture of nonwovens. Thanks to the two new installations that will receive the funding, Innovatec GmbH says it will be able to produce an additional 1,500 tonnes of nonwovens, an amount allowing the manufacture of more than 1.5 billion protective masks.

Minister Altmaier: “We want to greatly expand Germany’s production capacity for protective equipment and thus effectively reduce our reliance on imports. Our long-term goal is to cover the entire value chain – from machinery and nonwovens to protective masks. The investment by Innovatec GmbH helps us to make a great leap forward towards our goal of producing an additional 4,000 tonnes of nonwovens per year.”

The Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control (BAFA) is responsible for implementing the funding programme.

Torsten Safarik, President of BAFA, pointed out: “The way we swiftly implement the process at BAFA allows us to contribute towards reducing Germany’s and Europe’s dependence on imports when it comes to protective masks. The directive drawn up by Minister Altmaier and the BMWi plays an important role in this effort.”

On 9 April, the Coronavirus Cabinet had decided to establish a Production Task Force under the lead responsibility of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi). The Task Force was assigned to build up and expand production capacities for personal protective equipment and medical products in Germany and the EU in order to reduce reliance on imports in the event of a pandemic.

In a first step, a funding programme was devised and implemented to promote the creation and expansion of domestic production capacities for urgently needed melt-blown nonwovens – a key upstream product for the manufacture of certified protective masks. Under the funding scheme, which entered into force on 1 May, the Federal Government offers support in the form of a 30% investment grant for companies choosing to invest in the creation and expansion of production capacities for melt-blown nonwovens. The programme is intended to stimulate an additional annual production of 4,000 tonnes of nonwovens, enabling the manufacture of 5 billion protective masks per year. The companies that receive the funding are obliged to prioritise sales to European manufacturers of protective masks.

Innovatec GmbH from Troisdorf, North Rhine-Westphalia, is the largest manufacturer of nonwovens in Europe and is investing over €11 million in two new installations for the production of melt-blown nonwovens. Supplied by Reifenhäuser and Oerlikon, both installations can claim to be ‘made in Germany’. On 1 June, two further modules were added to the funding programme with a view to promoting the extended value chain as well. They provide funding in the form of an investment grant of up to 50% for the creation and expansion of installations that will enable the production of up to seven billion certified protective masks. Further information about the funding programmes can be found here (in German).