Dyed in the wool innovation partners up to go global

By Peter Kerr 02/04/2013

The time it takes to convert a good idea into something that another person’s willing to buy is almost invariably longer than you think.

A couple of years ago, sticK reported on BGI Developments’ winning the right to commercialise AgResearch’s new textile fabric dyeing process.

The beauty of this process is different dye colours don’t bleed into each other – the picture or pattern remains sharp and embedded in the fabric (unlike say printing on top of a T-shirt for example).

BGI (stands for Bloody Good Ideas) directors Robyn George-Neich and Brent Gregory have spent part of the past two years looking for the right company to take the technology to the global market.

They now reckon they’ve found this key partner, American company Global Merino, San Anselmo, California headquartered.

George-Neich says the licenced technology allows designers to use merino in creative ways never before possible. This includes being able to choose colours and designs just before entering the market. Such flexibility of production reduces both the manufacturing and retailer risk.

BGI has spent the past year on commercial trials at Global Merino’s Melbourne facility, taking the innovation to commercial production.

Meanwhile, Global Merino report that their buyers’ responses to the new way of creating garments and graphics is “overwhelmingly positive”.

So, today the laboratory bench, tomorrow (or a few days after!), the world.

What this demonstrates is the value of partnership.

AgResearch’s mandate and strengths (these days) is not necessarily in commercialisation. That’s where BGI have come to the party. BGI doesn’t have the market depth or width to take the innovation to the world – that’s where Global Merino distribution is crucial.

BGI’s looking for other sectors of the textile market where the new dyeing technology can be applied, and AgResearch is trialling applications on wool in it various forms.

As George-Neich says, each of the parties would not be able to achieve alone what they can by working together.

She expects products made using the technology to be on shelves in 2014.

As a fusion of high performance and improved merino wool technologies and just-in-time fashion, this go to market model has a lot going for it.

Partnering, the right partnering, pays.