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The Woolmark Company invites industry to partner it in innovation

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Jimmy Jackson, General Manager Product Development and Commercialisation at The Woolmark Company (TWC) has invited the wool industry to engage with TWC to develop further innovations in the wool industry.

‘If you have half an idea or even no idea’, he said, ‘at TWC / AWI we are open to having a discussion in confidence. The “Innovations Think Tank” has been set up to try and help, or partner with you, to develop “new manufacturing processes which can lead to new product opportunities” for the wool industry.

Mr Jackson issued this invitation to Chinese and international delegates at the recent Nanjing Wool Market Conference in Qingdao in September.

According to Mr Jackson the wool industry has solved challenging issues in the past using such an approach. This included developing new processes for manufacturing machine washable garments, slow release moisturisers, mercerised merino, and technologies that provide for vintage look in wool garments.

‘We have to remember that every product needs a process, and that every NEW product needs a NEW process. So we have to think about developing new manufacturing processes for wool which results in new product opportunities’, he said.

To kick start the process Mr Jackson suggested that new ideas in innovation could be based on three platforms – Caring for the garment – Caring for the wearer – Caring for the planet.

He commented that the approach at AWI is to monitor new products being launched by the chemical, dyestuff and machinery industries.

‘It has become more difficult and challenging today because very few companies, if any, develop anything specific to wool. The reason for this is perhaps understandable, as the companies simply look at the market share and see that wool is around 1.3%, so they concentrate and invest their business R & D funding into cotton and man-made fibres sectors’, says Mr Jackson.

‘However, often one can take a new product and develop a “new process” and make it applicable to wool. Also, don’t just look at the textile, chemical and machinery industries. After all, the resin used to make wool machine washable was developed for the paper industry and Cyclo-dextrin was used for enhancing the deodorant properties of wool, which was developed for processed food.’


‘It is doubtful that anybody has all the ideas’, he said, ‘I can tell you that AWI doesn’t and if we did, then we don’t own any machines to fulfil these ideas. Therefore, we need to partner with businesses (which we already do with some), and continue working in partnerships so that we can expand.

‘AWI may have half an idea or your company may have half an idea, however, partnering together will more often than not invariably lead to the development of these ideas. In addition, we know partnering on innovations with manufacturers brings a commercial accruement to ideas, which is more likely to reach the market and its consumers quicker’, he concluded.

If you have any thoughts and ideas, suggestions and comments Jimmy Jackson can be contacted by email at


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