Who is AWI?

Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) is the research, development (R&D) and marketing organisation for the Australian wool industry. AWI was established by the Australian Government in 2001 to manage woolgrowers’ collective investment in R&D for the benefit of the industry. In 2007, AWI acquired The Woolmark Company on behalf of woolgrowers and marketing activities re-commenced.

AWI invests in R&D and marketing activities across the global wool supply-chain to:

  • Enhance the profitability, international competitiveness and sustainability of the Australian wool industry; and
  • Increase demand and market access for Australian wool.

AWI is a global organisation, with 169 staff across 14 different countries, led by AWI’s head office in Sydney.

AWI is accountable to both woolgrowers and the Australian Government through legislation (the Wool Services Privatisation Act 2000), relevant regulations and a Statutory Funding Agreement.

While every Australian woolgrower pays a levy on the sale of shorn wool, those who have paid $100 or more in wool levies over the past three financial years may vote in WoolPoll, as they are deemed ‘eligible levy payers’ by the WoolPoll Regulations. For every $100 in levy you pay, you get one vote.

What has AWI delivered for the Australian wool industry?

SHEEP PRODUCTION

Increase the profitability and sustainability of woolgrowing
  • Identified new compounds for potential novel insecticides to control the blowfly.
  • Registration of Buccalgesic®, a pre-operative pain relief providing more options for growers in ensuring the welfare of their sheep.
  • Development of a sprayer unit for decontaminating the outside of wool bales in the event of an emergency animal disease outbreak.
  • Gene knockout technology (CRISPR) developed for the blowfly to enable in-depth analysis of the function of blowfly genes, hopefully resulting in the development of novel and more effective ways of preventing flystrike.
  • Improving productivity for more than 4,000 growers through Lifetime Ewe Management (LTEM) – with the average participant reporting a 10% increase in weaning rates and 30% reduction in ewe mortality.
  • National network of wild dog coordinators and 170 community wild dog control groups supported, with greater coverage and scale across Australia, to increase woolgrower profitability by reducing wild dog impacts.
  • New strain of Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Virus released at 400 sites nationally, with an average 38% reduction in rabbit numbers at release sites.
  • Exclusion fence construction machinery co-funded in Queensland that is able to fence 5km per day to help growers lower costs in their fight against wild dogs.
  • Investment in the world’s biggest 10-year sheep research trial – Merino Lifetime Productivity (MLP) – collecting more than 25,000 data sets from around Australia measuring all aspects of sheep’s lifetime performance to assist growers to improve sheep productivity.
  • Research proved sleeping in wool can provide better and less interrupted sleep.
  • Demonstrated that Merino base-layer garments are therapeutic to eczema.
  • Developed draft specifications for retailers and brands for next-to-skin wear to improve reliability and consumer confidence.
  • Biserrula and Serradella legumes developed that fill feed gaps and improve soil health and overall pasture productivity.
  • R&D into wool’s environmental footprint (including greenhouse gas emissions, water and energy usage, waterway pollution and more) from farm to fashion to improve the environmental rating of wool compared to other fibres.
  • Development and patent of low-cost smart tag technology to monitor sheep and their environment to understand different behaviours and wellbeing.
  • Collaborating on R&D into virtual herding technology to understand its potential application across different production systems and the responses of sheep to various cues and stimuli.
  • Developed wool bale sensors to track and record humidity and temperature in wool bales to guarantee industry biosecurity.
  • Cost effective microwave technology to improve internet connectivity on the farm and from the farm to the world.

WOOLGROWER SERVICES

Increase woolgrower profitability.
Provide cost effective services to woolgrowers and other parties on their behalf
  • Supported more than 9,000 growers Australia-wide through AWI's 6 state-based grower extension networks (Sheep Connect NSW, Bestwool/Bestlamb VIC, Sheep Connect SA, The Sheep's Back WA, Sheep Connect TAS, Leading Sheep QLD) to spread new ideas, and continue education and the adoption of best practice.
  • National Merino Challenge to encourage new entrants into the industry by helping more than 600 students across Australia to develop industry knowledge, networks and skills in feed budgeting, condition scoring, breeding objectives, wool harvesting, commercial assessment and classing of animals and fleeces.
  • New suite of 1-day workshops – Winning With Weaners, RAMping Up Repro and Realising Performance Potential – to improve growers’ lamb and weaner survival rates, and ram and ewe reproductive performance.
  • Next generation of leaders supported through Breeding Leadership, the Nuffield Farming and Horizon Scholarship programs, Young Farming Champions Program and Australian Rural Leadership Program.
  • More shearer and wool handler training days delivered (3,899 since 2015) and more people trained (16,665 since 2015) at all skill levels – from novices to professionals – to improve productivity and achieve best practice standards.
  • Supported 185 shearing and wool handling competitions since 2015 from local to national level – promoting excellence in wool harvesting, encouraging new entrants to the industry and continued development of new techniques.
  • Shed design project currently under way to guide woolgrowers on best design to increase productivity in their wool sheds.
  • Improved channels to connect and inform woolgrowers including: The Yarn podcast, Beyond the Bale online, @BeyondTheBale Instagram, and eNewsletters and market reports.
  • Improved AWI’s Woolgrower Industry Consultative Committee (ICC) to ensure AWI continues to receive feedback on woolgrowers’ priorities and can report back on its R&D and marketing activities.
  • The wool industry’s new online wool exchange platform was developed from consultation phase right through to build phase, for launch in 2018. You can register at www.woolq.com

PROCESSING INNOVATION AND EDUCATION EXTENSION

Increase the profitability and sustainability of wool processing
  • Launch of the new Woolmark Performance Challenge – an annual competition for tertiary students to develop innovative new products for the sportswear market, by applying the science and performance benefits of Australian Merino wool.
  • Wool4School’ fashion design competition involved more than 75,000 students in Australia, now expanded to Hong Kong and the UK to encourage the next generation of designers to champion Australian wool.
  • Learn About Wool’ interactive website and resource kits provided to primary and secondary teachers to teach the next generation about the wool industry.
  • ‘Naturally Inspiring’ seminars delivered globally to over 2,000 university and college fashion and textile design students explaining the inherent properties, benefits and great versatility of wool.
  • Exhibit annually at international trade shows showcasing new wool product developments and The Wool Lab to over 15,000 manufacturers and brands.
  • Transferred knowledge of AWI-developed innovations to companies to increase capacity to manufacture wool including: Mottled Merino, Vintage Merino, Knitted Merino Denim, Woven Merino Denim, 3D Merino, Merino Retract, Sculpture Merino and Mercerised Merino.
  • Launched the ‘Wool Resource Centre’ in Hong Kong, helping supply chain partners develop, produce and market Australian wool products. More than 1,800 people from 220 brands, designers and educational institutions visited in the first year.
  • Retail training programs developed to educate retail staff of leading luxury European and Asian brands on all things wool to ensure that the attributes of wool and apparel care is better communicated to consumers.
  • Developed ‘Optim’ fabric with enhanced water and wind resistance – now taken up by major sports/ outdoor brands.
  • Non-chlorination treatments for washable wool under way to improve sustainability and environmental outcomes of wool processing.
  • Trials of ozone treatment to control wool shrinkage and e-flow dyeing of washable wool underway – improving sustainability and environmental outcomes of wool processing.
  • Developments under way for the fashion, sports and outdoor market innovations:
    • yarns with better abrasion and durability for footwear
    • lightweight fabrics for fashion and sports
    • wind resistant fabrics
    • compressionwear
    • wool velvets and wool fur for luxury fashion.
  • Research and trials under way into new product innovations:
    • Smart textiles with the capability of reacting to different stimuli eg temperature, pressure
    • Interactive textiles
    • wearable technologies which are sewn into clothing and operated by an integrated control
    • 3D printing
    • double-face print technology.

MARKETING

Increase demand for Australian wool
  • Generated long-term incremental demand by increasing awareness of and lifetime loyalty to Australian wool amongst the competition’s designers and alumni across the world.
  • Invested in the Campaign for Wool to drive new international demand for wool by encouraging manufacturers, retailers and designers to use wool, and educating consumers about wool’s unique, natural, renewable and biodegradable benefits.

Created new demand for wool in the USA through the delivery of high profile brand partnerships and innovative product developments including:

  • Tommy Hilfiger – lightweight suiting
  • Burton – promoting wool's performance benefits in snow sports, showcasing 100% Australian Merino wool base-layers, shirts, bottoms and accessories
  • Jason Wu – womenswear
  • Woolrich John Rich & Bros – 100% Merino water-repellent and wind-proof Storm System fabric
  • Boston Marathon – promoting wool’s sports performance benefits at one of the world’s most famous races, along with wool sportswear for winners
  • World Surf League – collaboration on exclusive Australian Merino wool base layers and hoodies designed for the beach.

Created new demand for wool in Asia through the delivery of high profile brand partnerships and innovative product developments including:

  • ‘Grown in Australia. Made in India’ (India) - highlighting Merino wool and the Indian artisans who use it
  • Comme Moi (China) - womenswear
  • Growing demand for wool in China through programs such as The Woolmark Gold and the 50 years of Woolmark in China
  • Beautyberry (China) – luxury menswear
  • Rogatis (Korea) – men’s suiting
  • FACETASM (Japan) – innovative wool fabrics
  • Nano Universe (Japan) – men’s luxury knitwear
  • ‘Her Era, Her Power’ (China) – collaboration with T Magazine to promote Merino wool’s natural benefits
  • GQ (China) – editorial featuring Merino wool apparel worn for skateboarding, cycling, running and yoga

Created new demand for wool in Europe through the delivery of high profile brand partnerships and innovative product developments including:

  • Z Zegna (Italy) – TECHMERINO™ collection
  • Il Gufo (Italy) – children’s and babywear
  • Marks & Spencer – UK’s largest retailer of wool products
  • Vogue Italia (Italy) – showcased Merino wool and activewear from performance brands including adidas, Woolrich, New Balance
  • adidas (Germany) – building the brand’s wool product listing with performance T-shirts and woollen sneakers
  • British GQ – UK’s leading sportsmen modelling the finest in Merino wool athletic attire
  • AUNDE (Germany) – promoting and encouraging wool in car interiors
  • BMW – wool blended fabric options developed for car interiors
  • MINI – creation of a wool capsule collection, designed by up-and-coming fashion designers and co-developed by The Woolmark Company and MINI
  • ‘Inside Out’ (UK) – collaboration with bespoke tailors of Savile Row to highlight the importance of Merino wool in men’s suiting
  • Max Mara (Italy) – Wool Denim collection

Created new demand for wool in Australia through the delivery of high profile brand partnerships and innovative product developments including:

  • Wool Week Australia – partnering with major Australian retailers and brands, like Westfield, to promote wool
  • Country Road – focus on the “farm to fashion” story of Australian Merino wool
  • JAGGAD – fabric development and use in high-performance singlets, short- and long-sleeved T-shirts, and dance shorts
  • ‘Fibre of Football’ – campaign featuring high profile AFL stars to highlight the sport’s connection with wool. More than 140 lines of wool supporter gear were sold – with many clubs having to re-order stock
  • Flock to the Baggy Green – project to include woolgrowers’ wool in the baggy green cap
  • Loro Piana Record Bale competition – celebrating Australian woolgrowers achieving an extremely high standard of fineness and quality