Would a Wool-X prize inspire winning idea?

30/01/2011

I’m not a fan of the Sunday Star Times but one good thing it does do is provide space for a column by Federated Farmers president Don Nicolson.

That allows him to communicate with an audience which probably doesn’t read or listen to rural media and to promote good ideas like this week’s (which isn’t online).

It starts:

Imagine if we had a new green export that could generate more than $600 million a year – $100m more than The Hobbit’s economic contribution. Imagine if that export was 100% pure and derived from natural, renewable sources. That product exists – wool.

If ever there was a time to sell a product with those credentials it is now.

Maybe it’s also time for a “Wool-X prize” modelled on the X-Prize Foundation “making the impossible, possible”.

The word prize is key – Virgin Galactic is now in commercial evolution after Burt Rutan spent $25m to win a $10m prize to create a cheap and reusable space vehicle. Could a Wool-X prize similarly inspire enthusiasts in shed and the world’s biggest universities? If we retained the intellectual property, it could unlock new mass market products and industries.

Even if we didn’t retain the intellectual property it would help wool get to – and pass – the $2.8 billion industry it ought to be when adjusted for inflation.

Falling supply and rising demand are taking wool prices back to peaks last seen more than 20 years ago.

A Wool-X prize could inspire a winning idea, then imagine where prices could go if innovative new uses made high demand the norm.


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