When Science Meets Fashion: The Story Of The Textile Scientist In M’sia

Dr Thomas P. S. Ong is on a mission to become the essential bridge between the textile industry and academia in Malaysia by promoting the advancement of nanotechnology in textiles. The young and forward-looking CEO also hopes to break the perception that overseas technology is better than local through NanoTextile Sdn Bhd.

Over the years, Dr Thomas Ong P.S, NanoTextile Sdn Bhd’s CEO has been aggressively commercialising nanotechnology – particularly in the textile industry. People know about nanotechnology in other fields as cosmetics and automotive, but it’s uncommon for people to hear about nanotechnology in textiles.

“Back in 2015, the awareness of nanotechnology in textiles was a bit vague in Malaysia. Unlike in some countries such as Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea, the people are very much aware of the presence of nanotechnology in commodity products,” Dr Thomas explained.

“What I did in my early days joining NanoTextile Sdn Bhd was to knock on people’s doors to talk about nanotechnology in textiles. I spent a year or two on doing it,” he laughed.

NanoTextile is the pioneer to introduce nanotechnology in Malaysia

NanoTextile Sdn Bhd was founded in 2015 through a joint venture and ideation initiated by NanoMalaysia – a company limited by guarantee (CLBG) under the purview of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI).

Dr Thomas tells WargaBiz that in 2016, they were doing a project tapping into wellness and medical healthcare. The project was creating anti-odour socks by incorporating nanotechnology into fabric making. Then, he realised that this technology has vast potential in the textile industry.


So we decided to spin off the company into NanoTextile Sdn Bhd, ideation that was formed within NanoMalaysia, upon which I was appointed as the first chief executive officer of the company up till today. It has been a wonderful six years journey for me – and I never look back ever since.”

NanoTextile Sdn Bhd is proud to be the pioneer and the 1st company in Malaysia to offer a wide range of nanotechnology in the textile industry. In the almost eight years since its founding, the company has proven that Malaysia’s technology is on par with overseas technology and is very committed to maintaining its reputation.

Against all odds

Dr Thomas Ong P.S, CEO of NanoTextile Sdn Bhd

Sharing his education and career background, Dr Thomas says he never had professional experience in textiles. This young and articulate man was a PhD holder in Materials Science from Imperial College London, UK.

Back in the UK, he noticed that the industry and academia are both harmonised – in a sense, the industry knows what the academia wants and the academia understands what’s the needs of the industry. Unfortunately, coming back to Malaysia, he realised it wasn’t the case in the country.

“I worked for about two years back in the UK. So I understand the industry’s needs. Besides, I have a PhD background so I was hoping to become the connecter between the industry and academia. This is where NanoTextile plays its part in becoming the harmoniser between these two sides,” he explained.

Nanotechnology is the new era in textiles


NanoTextile is a Business-to-Business (B2B) business that operates as a Business-to-Consumer (B2C). They provide end-to-end business advisory to complement their services. “It’s in our company DNA – to think as our customers think.”

Dr Thomas speaks passionately of NanoTextile’s achievements. Their first local collaboration was with PONEY, a Malaysian kidswear brand back in 2018. He said it was one of the highlights in his career and for NanoTextile too.

After the collaboration, he realised that the clothing segment is big and there is vast potential to explore such as womenswear, Muslimah fashion, modest fashion, menswear, sportswear and so on. Since then, they have been working with a few Modest fashion brands in producing textiles by incorporating nanotechnology.

The toughest decision as the CEO of NanoTextile

The pandemic was a difficult time for all of us at NanoTextile. We are a big family, and we felt that we needed to protect the whole family somehow,” he shares.

The sudden lockdown tested his decision-making as a CEO. “When the government announced lockdown, I had to make such a big business decision to stay adapt,” he shares. “We can’t guarantee to deliver according to the timeline to our customers. Besides, my team’s welfare has got to be my priority.”

“I had to do what I had to – saying sorry to my clients. Although the volume of the business was good, it’s a tough decision that we had to make.”

Although we are in the post-pandemic, Dr Thomas clarified that they can still feel the impact. Now, they are focusing on rebuilding the business.

Growing the business


There are plenty of achievements that NanoTextile has achieved throughout the years. The company has bagged the Nanotechnology – Apparel trophy in the  Malaysia Technology Excellence Awards 2020, presented by Singapore Business Review.

Besides, NanoTextile secured a collaboration with Volvo Malaysia in creating an exclusive range of batik masks during the pandemic. 

“We are trying to be at the forefront of shaping the evolution of our textile industry. We are already looking forward to what is in store for us in 2024,” adding that they have lined up all future projects in 2023.

“We just launched nanotextile+; a program developed to help our stakeholders in having access to extended benefits and insights, on the NanoTextile official website. One of the benefits included in nanotextile+ is the modified to suit program that offers curated rebates to stakeholders and business partners,” he tells.

“With so much access to insights and data, NanoTextile sees the potential of nanotextile+ as an integrator that will help stakeholders conduct business at low risk and full potential.”

“Therefore, the solutions and consultancy provided are different for each stakeholder based on statistics and modelling techniques in its formulated data analysis,” he explained.

Furthermore, NanoTextile is also very much excited to launch nanotextile360° – a niche programme designed to promote textile sustainability.

“nanotextile360°’s vision is to integrate technology into fashion and consumer brands by focusing on four elements; Knowledge and Design, Gallery and Exhibition, Commercial and Development. We will perhaps launch it by end of this year,” he ended.

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Dr. Thomas Ong P. S.: Pioneering The Textile-Nanotechnology Innovation With Captivating Ideas

Dedication and passion in work are of utmost importance in the technology industry as these traits help leaders to create new innovative ideas. Curiosity and interest are the key qualities for leveraging technology with other industries. The leaders who are continuously following and working on designing ingenious tech solutions.

Holding a passion for technology innovations in the textile industry Dr. Thomas Ong P.S. (CEO, NanoTextile Sdn Bhdis strengthening the entire textile ecosystem. Dr. Thomas leads the first Malaysian company that has implemented nanotechnology in textiles.

An Eminent Career

Dr.Thomas has a work experience of more than 12 years and served in numerous fields such as Semiconductors, Solid State, Renewable Energy, Fuel cells, Material Science, Nanotechnology, Medical & Wellness, Textile, Fashion, Sustainability and Circular Economy, etc. He has also led and managed in all the sectors mentioned above. In addition to that, he has executed tech and sustainability business development and strategies.

Thomas’s strong involvement in leadership management has resulted in partnerships with over 55 companies through successful B2B and B2C commercialization strategies and products across APAC. According to Thomas, the ability to apply agile omnichannel client-user tech experience while prioritizing the goals has been his strength throughout his career. Currently, he is focusing on building compelling business cases with ESG sustainability potential.

Leveraging Nanotechnology

NanoTextile Sdn Bhd is the first Malaysian company that recognized the innovative potential of nanotechnology in the textile industry and started implementing the same. The mission of the company is based on two foundations, to make the customers succeed and ensure they stay relevant in the market. Thomas perceives it as an important opportunity that is valuable for the upcoming years as the technology finishing and embedment are different from others.

Service and supply in the clothing and apparel industry, also known as textile and fashion, is a robust and quick commodity industry. The company provides customer-focused, value-added products with its latest technologies to provide clients the experiences of better quality and latest technology. A business based on innovation and specialism distinguishes NanoTextile Sdn Bhd from others.

A Visionary Leader Driven by Enthusiasm

Being at the helm, Thomas plays an important role to accomplish the vision, mission, goals and values of the company and is responsible to lead the team towards notable success. According to him, the definition of success may vary according to organizations and individuals. However, the skills needed to achieve success are very essential. Dr. Thomas believes in making fast and resolute decisions. He quotes: “I am a person who doesn’t mind swallowing mistakes and it takes mere seconds only for me to restart and navigate for new solutions.”. He consistently reminds the employees to embrace punctuality, professionalism, and politeness as core values of the company.

Thomas shares a special trick of ‘High-Five’ emoji to motivate the team. This shows that regardless of the issues or challenges, he is with all the staff helping them out in any situation.“I’m pleased this has somehow become our team’s “rituals” in the company,” adds Thomas. It shows togetherness and engagement in the company. Along with sharing responsibility, risks, and stress, he also gives recognition to the employees. According to Thomas, his team also inspires him whilst he is inspiring the team.

Individual Attention to Clients

NanoTextile Sdn Bhd maintains its relations with fellow clients. Keeping close relations with the clients, the company treats all of them as business partners. Owing to its understanding of what works for a particular client, most times, the company follows the ‘Think, Behave, React, and Decide’ pattern. With client’s gain being its highest priority, NanoTextile Sdn Bhd has dedicated personnel who work closely with each client, handling one-to-one accounts and their management.

Sustainable Textile Industry

Latest trends in the industry boost innovation in the relative field. Innovative trends in the textile sector are beneficial for the future. According to Thomas, the sustainability theme surrounding the industry is beneficial and leads to success. Several countries are coming forward with their blueprints and strategies in handling textile waste as well as to close the loop. Thomas adds that the recent work focuses on building compelling business cases with ESG sustainability potentials toward circular economy in the textile and fashion industry.

Life beyond Work

Handling a business requires hard work and dedication. Moreover, maintaining a work-life balance is the most crucial task. With that said, leaders must have skills to ensure optimum work-life balance. In his personal life also, Thomas plays various roles such as a father, husband, tennis player, and gym-goer. According to him, as humans get older, keeping metabolism revved is a must-do thing.

Emphasizing Strategic Planning

Suggesting the aspiring leaders to strive in the race and do remarkable business in their respective fields, Thomas says that starting something new and embracing the challenges without prior planning and strategies does not help the business. He believes in making quantifiable calculations in justifying decisions before doing something.

Launch of nanotextile+ and nanotextile360°

With the latest and advanced nanotechnology combined with the textile industry, NanoTextile Sdn Bhd aims to explore other textile segments that can be enabled by the technology. Along with clothing, automotive, industrial, home, and medical textile segments, the company is now supporting and entering the sub segments such as the batik, reversible wear, plus-size, sportswear, etc. In 2022, the company is launching sustainable efforts-driven programs as nanotextile+ and nanotextile360° to work with business partners in niched projects while promoting awareness in textile sustainability.


Dr. Thomas Ong P. S._Quote

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Meet Dr. Thomas P. S. Ong – Control and Shift in Malaysia’s Fashion Textile Industry

Today we have selected Dr. Thomas P. S. Ong to take his interview. He is the CEO of Nano Textile Innovation.

First of all, how are you and your team doing in these COVID-19 times?

COVID-19 has affected everyone globally, with no exceptions among commercial sectors; B2C or B2B. We truly understood perceiving from our business partners’ B2C perspective. As a technology service provider in B2B sectors, the most difficult part of the previous two years has been maintaining consistency in the business market.

We do overcome the hurdles to stay positive, especially when working from home and stay relevant throughout this journey. Plus, we are under the textile segment that has our unique selling property via our nanotechnology services.

During the lockdown period, I must look after my production, strategy, and development teams’ physical and emotional well-being. Not everyone can embrace the work-from-home as efficiently as you wish. Considering the different home working environments we all have, it certainly isn’t a one-size-fits-all in terms of methods and ways to embrace this kind of working mode.

Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined this company?

Across 12+ years of experience, I’ve worked in diverse verticals (refer below**); led, managed, and execute tech and sustainability business development & strategies. My strong involvement in leadership management has led to partnerships with over 55 companies through successful B2B and B2C commercialization strategies and products across APAC.

NanoTextile Sdn Bhd was founded in 2015 through a joint venture led by NanoMalaysia Bhd in Malaysia. My recent work focuses on building compelling business cases with sustainability potentials toward circular economy in the textile and fashion industry. We are launching sustainable efforts–driven programs, nanotextile+, and nanotextile360° to work closely in niched projects and business partners while promoting awareness in textile sustainability.

How does your company innovate?

Nanotechnology is well known as the enabler in other areas such as medicine, agriculture, and the food industry. Nanotechnology in textile is not a new concept. Still, as the pioneer to introduce it in Malaysia, we are devoted to supplying industry leaders with nanotechnology to build Malaysia’s textile and fashion scene in a more modern, tech-savvy, and sustainable manner.

It was dubbed “functional.” Creating a unique value chain for demand is critical to making your product stand out from the crowd. Furthermore, NanoTextile is currently collaborating with local fashion manufacturers to raise consumer awareness of technical textiles.

For example, one of the initiatives in the nanotextile360° program focuses on new research on using biological materials as alternatives to consumables in the textile and fashion industry. nanotextile+ extends partnerships with our business partners to enhance the incorporation of technology into products, functional being one of the pillars in sustainable efforts which we passionately promote.

How the Coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?

The pandemic disrupted the supply chain quite drastically in 2020 – 2021. We are still experiencing its effect now, in 2022. We even had cancelations of services, orders,, and delays in product launches. All of these had contributed to the disruption of our plans and strategies.

During two years, we managed to gain partnerships in corporate communication; our focus swift to marketing efforts while building the fundamentals to business gain later. We are hopeful, with the ongoing economic and business activities, we can strive back and return to our normal.

Did you have to make difficult choices, and the lessons learned?

What I’d like to emphasize is the scenario rather than the options. As of now, one situation to consider is how you want clients/stakeholders to be able to incorporate your technology into their products/SKUs. To help customers comprehend our business category, we must show them what we do because the exposure will be limited to you till then. Hence, one thing for sure that has always been in the minds of business players is the cost.

Another scenario currently being discussed is how we may remain relevant by competing with other competitors, particularly those from China. What distinguishes us is that China textile segments often function as fabric manufacturers and providers, with nanotechnology embedded in the fabric and shipped to Malaysia. Still, we work as nanotechnology service providers to fashion brands. To maintain quality, we executed the embedment process on the finished items, and we do not recommend doing it on the cloth due to the efficacy drop.

What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?

To navigate the crisis/scenario, we do not use any specific tools or software. However, one quality that has always been injected in me is the ability to consider what is best for the client. What is the finest solution to come out if you put yourselves in their shoes? Plus, planning is a vital aspect of the growing market.

By planning the best technology next to encounter the market and for the client, we are bringing one step ahead solution, not just for the company but the whole fashion and textile landscape in Malaysia.

Your final thoughts

My vision has been clear, and that is to move the industry upward the value chain by providing our business partners, ranging from the SMEs, brand owners, distributors, manufacturers, and producers) the avenues to innovate and functionalize.

Likewise, feel free to browse through our LinkedIn profile on our business themes such as “Functional Apparel” in 2018, “When Fashion Meets Technology” in 2019, “Sustainability” in 2021, etc. Our website is currently accessible at Besides Clothing, Automotive, Industrial, Home, and Medical Textile segments, we are also now championing sub-segments such as the batik, reversible wear, plus-size, socks/school wear, etc.

Article Link: Meet Dr. Thomas P. S. Ong – Control and Shift in Malaysia’s Fashion Textile Industry


FIBRE2FASHION – Impact of COVID-19 on Malaysia’s tech textiles market mediocre to huge


Impact of COVID-19 on Malaysia’s tech textiles market mediocre to huge

Malaysian company NanoTextile Sdn Bhd taps into nanotechnology to offer a wide span of opportunities and possibilities in the textile industry. The company provides a complete solution of knit and woven fabrics, laminates and composites. Chief executive officer (CEO) Thomas Ong P S speaks to Fibre2Fashion about the company’s preparations to tackle the crisis arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Q.  When was the company founded and who are the people behind its foundation?

A. Nanotextile was established in 2015 to spearhead the potential of nanotechnology after realising its opportunities for the textile industry. I took on the pioneer executive leadership and lead to a RM2.4-million textile technology and innovation start-up. A spin-off company, a joint venture between Nano Commerce Sdn Bhd which is the wholly-owned company of NanoMalaysia Bhd, with Nanopac (M) Sdn Bhd and a series of investors.

Q. Tell us more about Nano-embedment technology and its usage in fashion?
A. Besides nano-composite manufacturing, we are focused on nano-embedment processes as well, i.e., we do the final finishing on to the textile product (fabric of which could be leather, cotton, PE, chiffon, etc) and optimisation of the embedment process is also done by us via our proprietary processes. The technology finishing differs from each other. An array of technologies we offer in the hygienic, care, comfort, protection, advanced and premium series. For example, the hygienic series would consist of the anti-fungus, anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, self-cleaning and odor control technologies. Market segments we target are home, clothing, automotive, industrial and medical. Clothing textile sub-sectors are not limited to kidswear, women’s clothing and sportswear. 
By offering the nanotechnology embedment technologies and processes, we allow our clients to maintain their supply chain undisrupted. We come into the picture only at the final stage, before the final packaging.
Q. How do the costs of producing nanotextiles weigh in relation to normal textiles? Is it a commercially viable method?
A. By maintaining the supply chain, it boils down to us—the clients and Nanotextile—to build the best feasible business case consisting of agreed upon terms like volume, exclusivity and contractual period to maintain our clients’ profit margin. We remain focused at enabling businesses while guaranteeing them the surge in sales on their new offerings to their customers. This business model is deemed by many of our existing clients as a friendly and approachable model without complex terms like royalty or profit sharing, making it commercially viable for many of them.
Q. Since production of nanotextiles requires advanced machines, how do you maintain such machines in the long term? What special care is required?
A. We are dedicated to ensure our machinery is well calibrated and optimised. We do the optimisation check twice a year and maintenance once a year. There is no special care that is required, because our staff is trained to handle them. Furthermore, we do not exhaust our machinery with overproduction. Hence, the capacity of our production limits (or determines rather) the schedule and business commitments, unlike many other industries like electricals or electronics, where the businesses or contractual supply determine the production capacity.
Q. It is known that nanoparticles get released in the environment due to many factors, washing being one. In such a scenario, how can the life of nanotextiles be enhanced to make them wear and tear proof?
A. This is true for nano-finishing textiles and the durability is somewhat limited by how optimised are the nano layers with the fabric. However, most advancements are focusing at nano-composite and nano-fibre manufacturing. We are therefore dealing with yarns and weaving methods that are at nano size. The compatibility of the resultant fabric with nano-finishing is therefore stronger. Hence, the durability can be enhanced.
Q. How do the textiles disintegrate once their life term comes to an end? Are they fully sustainable, nay circular?
A. I would like to perceive sustainability of a fabric or clothing as eco-fashion, whereby the sustainability concerns more than addressing fashion textiles or products. It comprises addressing the whole system of fashion and the usage of alternative raw materials like recycled cotton, organic linen, bamboo fibres, etc. I am fully supportive of circular economy and fashion revolution, which are the future of textiles. 
We also participated in an event jointly held by the ministry of international trade and industry and the ambassador of Sweden to Malaysia. Weaving the pathway to a better future, this fashion evolution is casting the future of textiles in a fashionable and sustainable way. While textile remains a commodity, the vital change the industry players could make is to make a change in the business model from a linear to a circular one, hence making it sustainable.
Q. Last year, you had quoted that the nanotextile segment of technical textiles would have a double-digit growth rate during the next five years. Do you think the COVID-19 pandemic is going to hasten things?
A. Yes, indeed. If we look at the prospects of downstream businesses, their market segments consist of clothing textiles, which has the highest contribution by value to the global textile industry. Globally on an average, sales plummeted by 8.7 per cent, the largest-ever fall on record. This is nearly triple the previous worst month on record in 2008. And clothing and brands took the biggest hit, dropping by a large 50.5 per cent. However, we always believe that textile industry isn’t a sunset industry and it is here to stay. My hope is to see the textile industry seeking to revive with a new growth engine based on high-tech products. In my opinion, COVID-19 has definitely created a sudden stroke to the industry in terms of development and advancement, while consumers are adapting to the new norm. Nonetheless, it would also be important for the industry to quickly adopt new technologies to stay relevant in the business.

TECHNICAL TEXTILE – Interview With Thomas Ong P S

Wearable & conductive textiles with sensors to hit market soon

Malaysian company NanoTextile Sdn Bhd taps into the potentials of nanotechnology to offer a wide span of opportunities and possibilities in the textile industry. The company provides a complete solution of knit and woven fabrics, laminates and composites. Chief executive officer Thomas Ong P S discusses the future of nanotech and the potential of the Malaysian textile sector.

TT: How would you describe the market for nanotextiles? What is the average annual growth rate?


The current status of the global textile industry that we see has been based on research and development (R&D) activities catering to demands. Overall, it had contributed to growth of the sector, as the industry recorded a 3.3 per cent of compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2014 till mid 2018, according to Transparency Market Research. Technical textiles are one of the most profitable segments of the sector.
Nanotextile, being one of main pillars of technical textile, has been projected to continue rising at a double-digit rate during the next five years. Relevant factors that will contribute to market expansion through 2024 are the following:
  • Increasing penetration in large industrial sectors like apparel, fashion, separation,catalysis, biomedical, energy and automotive.
  • Greater utilisation in the fabrication of products characterised by strong demand, such as membranes, photocatalysts, and tissue engineering scaffolds.
  • Growing market penetration of nanotextiles in developing countries.
  • Increasing use of these products in wearable electronics and wearable medical devices.
  • Continued high levels of related R&D activities.
TT: What are the top five applications of nanotextiles?

We drive four major pillars of nanotextiles: nano-finishing textile, nano-fibrous textile, nano-composite textile and non-woven textile. We believe all these four pillars of nanotechnology in textile, serve to contribute to the advancement of textile segments in five major applications: textile for apparels, home textile, industrial /technical textile, medical textile and sports/leisure textile.

TT: Which are your major markets?

Our major sectoral markets are apparel and medical textiles.

TT: How big is the Malaysian technical textile industry? Are investments in this domain increasing?

In 2015, the textiles and textile products industry was among the ten largest export earners with RM13.2 billion, contributing approximately 1.7 per cent to the country’s total exports of manufactured goods. In coming years, we are looking at a double digit incremental trend, mainly because of current US-China trade war offering the opportunity of mass import and investment in Malaysia.

TT: What kind of support is the government offering?


Malaysia intensifies export-oriented industrialisation through the Third Industrial Master Plan (IMP3) that runs from 2006 until 2020. Directly related to the textile industry, six strategic thrusts have been set for further development of the industry.
  • Intensifying the promotion of investment in higher value-added textiles and apparel,including key support services
  • Intensifying regional integration of the industry
  • Strengthening the institutional support for further development of the industry
  • Sustaining market share in textiles and apparel and promoting exports of the targeted growth areas
  • Enhancing domestic capabilities and facilitating the utilisation of information and communication technology and new technologies
  • Enhancing skills of the workforce in designing production and marketing
These thrusts had since found its relevance in Industry 4.0, with its associated tax incentives and development funding.


TT: What kind of nano-coating technologies do you use? Do they involve green chemistry?

We have our proprietary technologies and, as I have mentioned, nano-coating using our proprietary and patented formulation and method is one of the four technology pillars we drive in our company. Nano-coating is one of the nano-finishing textiles we employ to add value to textiles and fabrics, and subsequently to the finished products. Our method is adapting green chemistry and a water base with laboratory testimonials showing excellent results in toxicity tests.