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AWI's history

Over the past two decades, the Australian wool industry has experienced significant institutional change. In the mid-1990s, the Federal Government created the Australian Wool Research and Promotions Organisation (AWRAP), subsuming the Australian Wool Corporation and the International Wool Secretariat (initially founded in 1937).

A key objective of AWRAP was to identify and evaluate the research and development (R&D) needs of the Australian wool industry, and to invest in research, development and extension (RD&E) projects. AWRAP also created a corporate vehicle - IWS International, later The Woolmark Company - to promote Australian wool internationally and manage use of the Woolmark brand.

In 2001, responding to industry concerns about the performance of AWRAP, the Federal Government created Australian Wool Services (AWS), a corporations law holding company. AWS had two main subsidiary companies:

  • The Woolmark Company (TWC), which was then tasked with the promotion of Australian wool and the commercial development of the Woolmark brand and other associated brands; and
  • Australian Wool Innovation (AWI), which was then tasked with identifying the industry's R&D needs and investing in suitable R&D projects, as well as undertaking a range of industry services (eg shearer handling and training, and the provision of market information).

In 2002, AWI separated from AWS to become a fully independent company. Both AWI and TWC retained their initial responsibilities.

In 2007, AWI purchased TWC and the Woolmark brand from AWS. The Federal Government assisted with this process by providing AWI with a one-off grant of $15 million. Since then, AWI has had responsibility for R&D, marketing and the provision of industry services.

History has shown that there are natural synergies between wool marketing and R&D.

Institutional change in the industry has supported the joint administration of both marketing and R&D, culminating in the formation of AWI as the wool industry's R&D, marketing and services body.

The diagram below shows the significant organisational change experienced by the Australian wool industry in recent decades.