Below are full articles from our July Newsletter updates. If you would like to receive Newsletter updates, please contact us.
Dear WRONZ Members,
It is a privilege and challenge to take over from my hardworking predecessor, Mr. David Douglas. His tireless drive as Board Member and Chairman was critical in convincing FRST to support the wool industry via the mechanism of a wool research consortium.
This support is responsible for effectively lifting the funding available to industry research to $3 million per year from the previous $1 million that Wool Research had available for investment. Be sure to read more about that below.
I am excited that the new funding strategy allows us to work in partnership with commercial companies and provide leveraged funding as a direct pathway to market. This is a great success as it was a highlighted point on our agenda when we convened with industry groups in the development of the consortium science and operational plans.
We have several exciting new research projects, the ability to support professional development, and a collaborative approach to prioritisation and investing in R&D of the industry.
Finally, as a reminder, the Board of Wool Research works exclusively for the benefit of the wider NZ wool industry and its members. Please feel free to approach myself or our Research Manager, Ian Cuthbertson (link), at any time to learn more about our processes, activities, or to discuss potential research ideas.
Looking forward to hearing from you,
$3 million per annum to invest in Wool R&D for five years -- a dream for many but a reality for Wool Research Limited (WIRL) . The funding has been strategically invested in projects like low toxicity insect resistance for the carpet industry and an increase in the whiteness and brightness of crossbred wool.
Half way through a five-year existence in June 2013, WIRL is still taking applications for opportunities within the industry.
It commenced business in February 2011 so will be halfway through its existence at the end of July 2013. It invests in both short and long term research projects under the general descriptions of "industry good" and "company specific" proposals.
It expects to cover 100% of the cost of Industry Good projects, and will own and manage all of the associated Intellectual Property generated for the benefit of the NZ wool industry. The objective from Company Specific projects is for the proposing company to wholly own the Intellectual property produced subject to them contributing a minimum of 30% of the research costs, and meeting agreed commercialisation targets.
Wool Research conducts research under two categories of research projects, Industry Good and Company Specific. Read below to find out more information about a current or recently complete project in each of these categories.
If you would like to know more, please contact Ian Cuthbertson at
Wool products have always been actively challenged by the background threat from some species of moth and carpet beetle.
Historically there have been very effective treatment, but due to cost, environmental performance, and latterly development of resistance by the insect larvae, the WIRL Advisory Group identified the need for a new alternative to permethrin as the highest single priority of the wool carpet industry.
On their advice, the first Industry Good project approved for funding by the WIRL Board was to investigate the development of a low toxicity alternative to the existing products. Scientists at AgResearch had identified a promising candidate chemical in an earlier research project, so were funded to develop the concept further to assess its commercial value.
The research and industrial trials associated with the project have demonstrated that the chemical works very effectively against both moth and beetle.
Shamrock NZ Ltd, who provided assistance to AgResearch in sourcing and formulating the chemical in a way that durably binds it to wool, have agreed to commercialise the product and make it available to NZ wool users.
An exciting outcome from one company specific application is imminent and is timely for disclosure. A research project undertaken by The Merino Company Ltd based at its Levana Knitwear plant in Levin has demonstrated its ability to significantly increase the whiteness and brightness of crossbred wool thereby allowing industry to compete in a sector of colour space that it never could before.
The main challenge to the research team was to meet or better the required colourfastness for carpets whilst achieving the target bright shades. The team have overcome this goal with the remaining challenge being optimisation of the processing systems.
The Merino Company will make the process or materials available to the broader industry – it already has commercialised its original development for the lesser demanding (in terms of light fastness) apparel use with Schoeller AG in Austria.
Time Frame: Feb 1, 2011 – January 31, 2016
Total Funding available: $15 million
Investment to date:
· Completed projects: Value $1,061,917
· Industry Good projects: 11 projects - Value $3,325,973
Including three post-doctoral fellowships and two PhD scholarships: Value $441,000
· Current and Pending Company specific projects: 9 - Value $5,564,603
· Industry co-funding committed to date: $1.9 Million
Un-committed funding available for new applications: $4.14 million
Our successful scholarship program has funded several Masters and PhD post Graduate scholarships.
The Wool Research Board has looked at ways to maximise the benefit from this investment to industry, and now seeks to assist commercial companies to become more involved in professional development through co-investment in training and/or achievement of higher academic qualifications for existing or new staff.
Specifically, Wool Research is able to support staff attendance at specific high level training courses for qualifying companies, and in particular encourages companies to consider employing/mentoring a PhD (or other appropriate qualification) scholar within its organisation. This may be done as a component of a larger research proposal, or as a separate scholarship application.
Anyone interested should contact Ian Cuthbertson.
90% of wool produced in NZ is used in the flooring industry.
Carpet performance aspects such as stain resistance, colour fastness, photostability and abrasion resistance are identified as critical performance issues that would benefit from step change improvements.
Despite the fact that dyed synthetic carpets grossly overstate and mislead consumers with the performance claims and "guarantees" -- the wool carpet manufacturers identified these areas as very important for the NZ wool industry.
In response, a Request for Proposal was circulated to relevant research providers inviting them to put forward suggested research projects that would provide the wool industry with the tools to offer minimum eight year guarantees on the key performance attributes.
Reviewing the proposals received recommended that the Board fund four applications from AgResearch and one from Victoria University.
These projects have made significant progress towards proof of concept, and have identified some very interesting opportunities for wool.
The one closest to commercialisation is in the area of stain resistance, where a very promising and novel development which will provide protection from both aqueous and oily staining materials has been trialled and evaluated. WIRL is looking to identify a commercial partner to pick up the idea and develop it for the market.
The other ideas still require further development and refinement before they can be presented for commercial evaluation, and it is expected that they will be further researched as funds become available.
In 2011, Wool Research contracted New York based innovation company Fahrenheit 212 (F212) to develop ideas for the industry to counter the current dependence on floor coverings.
The four most promising ideas that they came up with were in the areas of:
· Baby care
· Novelty active apparel
· Beauty care
A significant point of difference was around the business to business model that they identified for each area.
Wool Research has recently taken ownership of the IP generated by F212 to simplify the process by which potential commercialising companies can access each idea. F212 will still provide assistance to commercialising parties on a commercial basis as required, but the collateral developed to date is available through Wool Research.
WIRL is co-funding related R&D projects in three of the areas – industry is still to express direct interest in commercialising the baby care idea that F212 identified, but are actively seeking additional interest in the ideas with the aim of bringing together parties with sufficient resources to develop the opportunities to the scale required to lift the industry.
For further information about the F212 concepts, or anything related to WRONZ Inc's R&D, please contact Ian Cuthbertson.
Applications must show scientific stretch; create new demand or value for NZ wool; have significant industry good spinoff; and have a clear pathway to market.
Please note, any ideas or information included in an application is held in the strictest confidence. Company specific applications are reviewed solely by the WIRL Board, with the addition of scientific review by an agreed independent party in the event that the Board needs additional expertise to assess any particular application.
Wool Industry Research Limited (WIRL) was formed to manage and administer WRONZ Inc. research funding within the structure of a wool industry consortium.
WIRL is Co-funded by WRONZ Inc., the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE), and the commercial NZ Wool Industry.
MBIE provides up to 50% leverage funding into a consortium, matching the contributions by WRONZ and Industry.