In 1990 the Australian Government established the Cooperative Research Centres program. The CRC Program is acknowledged as one of the success stories of Australian science. The CRC’s bring together researchers from universities, CSIRO and other government laboratories, and private industry or public sector agencies, in long-term collaborative arrangements which support research and development and education activities that achieve real outcomes of national economic and social significance. The Government contributes AUD145M to the program, with additional funding being provided by industry.

The Cooperative Research Centre for Premium Quality Wool (Wool CRC) was established by the Australian Government in July 1993 under the Cooperative Research Centres Program. It’s aim was to improve the quality and competitive position of Australian wool in the world textile market. It was wound up in 2000.

Woolwise was born of the CRC for Premium Quality Wool as an information and educational service to the wool industry. The funding to establish Woolwise was provided by the Australian Wool Education Trust.

The CRC was a joint venture in research and education between Australia’s wool growers (through The Woolmark Company) and several research organisations including  CSIRO through the Divisions of Animal Production (DAP) and Textile and Fibre Technology (DWT), Agriculture Western Australia (AgWA), The Woolmark Company, and the Universities of New England (UNE), New South Wales (UNSW), Adelaide (UA) and Western Australia (UWA).

A number of other organisations or companies were involved in the activities of the Wool CRC as supporting parties. Included in this category are NSW Agriculture (NSW Ag), the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), the National Council of Wool Selling Brokers of Australia Ltd and the Australian Wool Testing Authority Ltd. The New South Wales and Western Australian State Governments and the George Aitken Pastoral Trust have also made substantial cash grants for capital equipment purchases.

The development of links with industry was an integral feature of the Australian Government CRC Program. The activities of the Wool CRC have been supported in various ways and to different degrees by a number of companies or organisations including G H Michell and Sons (Australia) Pty Ltd., Norwellan Textiles Pty Ltd., Merino Ratings Pty Ltd, Giovanni Schneider SpA, Yarra Falls Pty Ltd (*), Chargeurs Textiles Pty Ltd., Macquarie Textiles Pty Ltd., The Australian Association of Stud Merino Breeders, Merinotech Australia Pty Ltd., and three western Australian farmer groups (Cranmore Marketing Group, The Wool Foundation and The Wool Quality Project).

Over its seven-year initial term, the Wool CRC was supported by total funding of around $57.5 million, of which $15.5 million was provided by the Australian Government through the Wool CRC Grant and $42 million by the core parties.

During its lifetime the CRC for premium quality wool:

  • used genetic engineering to develop new fibre characteristics in sheep;
  • developed faster breeding programs in selecting for fleece weight and fibre diameter;
  • improved our understanding of the impact of fibre structure on processing performance;
  • identified ways to increase staple strength in a Mediterranean climate; and
  • set up innovative education programs for undergraduates and vocational trainees.

More information about its activities and achievements can be obtained from the publication CRC For Premium Quality Wool: 1993 – 2000 An Evaluation.