The New Zealand government and other industry stakeholders are to invest NZD17.25m (US$13.3m) in a wool research consortium to develop and commercialise new opportunities for the fibre.

The decision is described by science company AgResearch, which is one of the key research providers for the Wool Research Organisation of New Zealand Inc (WRInc), as "the start of a new era in wool research."

AgResearch business manager Margot Buick explains: "This is the single biggest investment in wool research in many years. It will be a real shot in the arm for the scientific research that can help support the wool industry."

Addressing historical obstacles to wool's use and performance are among the consortium's goals, as well as finding new added-value uses that exploit wool's intrinsic characteristics and make it a viable alternative to synthetics.

Funding has been provided by the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, the Wool Research Organisation of New Zealand Inc (WRInc), and other industry stakeholders.