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Wool Research Association Steering Affordable Innovations

The Wool Research Association (WRA) operates as an independent cooperative research organization governed by the Society’s Act and affiliated with the Ministry of Textiles, Government of India. Established in 1963 through collaboration between the woollen textile industry and the Union Government of India, WRA remains dedicated to advancing technology and science within the woollen sector and the broader textiles industry.

WRA’s mission extends beyond the specific needs of the woollen sector to encompass the overarching objectives of scientific and technological progress outlined by industry leaders and policymakers in India. To achieve these goals, the organization has pursued international accreditation as an R&D institution while addressing a spectrum of technical and techno-economic challenges encountered by the industry. Through cost-effective solutions and rapid response mechanisms, WRA has solidified its reputation as a trusted resource for resolving industry dilemmas.

Recently, the Ministry of Textiles, Government of India, bestowed upon WRA the prestigious title of Center of Excellence for Sportech. This designation underscores the organization’s commitment to excellence and innovation within the realm of sportech textiles.

In an exclusive discussion with The Interview World, KK Mishra, Director and COO of the Wool Research Association, elaborates on WRA’s pivotal role in advancing research and innovation in the wool sector. He highlights WRA’s efforts in providing technical expertise to the woollen industry, mentoring R&D-focused startups, and ensuring the delivery of high-quality, innovative, and affordable woollen products.

Q: What specific research initiatives and innovative projects have you been involved in at the Wool Research Association?

A: The Wool Research Association stands as the premier national institute specializing in wool technology, overseeing both a Center of Excellence (CoE) dedicated to Wool and another focused on SportTech. Within wool research, we engage in a spectrum of activities encompassing research and development, testing, analysis, and training tailored to the wool industry. Moreover, our initiatives extend to the specific requirements of the Leh and Ladakh region.

Our pioneering work includes the development of a unique technical mannequin, the sole one of its kind in Asia and exclusive to India. This groundbreaking tool enables precise fabric analysis across a wide temperature range, from minus 40 degrees Celsius to plus 40 degrees Celsius. Additionally, we issue comfort certificates that validate the suitability of garments for various temperature conditions, geographical areas, and zones.

Our endeavors further encompass comprehensive training, skill enhancement, mentorship, and ongoing research and development efforts.

Q: What specific projects are occupying your time and focus at the moment?

A: Currently, we’re engaged in seven diverse projects spanning various aspects of wool. Additionally, we’re exploring projects involving the blending of jute with wool, as well as with other fibers such as bamboo and banana. Alongside our research and innovation endeavors, we actively pursue advancements in textile technology specifically tailored for wool applications.

Beyond our wool-focused R&D initiatives, we operate a Center of Excellence. Serving as the central authority for programs like the Sports Authority of India and Khelo India, we’ve pioneered several innovations. Notably, we’ve developed a cutting-edge smart T-shirt capable of displaying a player’s on-field temperature directly on your mobile app. Furthermore, you can monitor vital signs such as their heartbeat, blood pressure, and ECG in real time.

Q: What activities are you engaging with within the realm of sports?

A: In the realm of sports, three key segments prevail: wear, gear, and accessories. Within the wear category, we offer an array of essential garments including T-shirts, caps, jerseys, and trousers. Gear-wise, our selection encompasses cricket pads, hockey pads, cricket bats, and hockey sticks. Accessories feature items like nets, notably basketball nets, all of which are knotless for optimal performance.

Additionally, our operations extend to an incubation center that operates around the clock, spanning 18 hours daily. Here, companies entrust us with their raw materials, which we skillfully transform into cutting-edge products. Our unique process involves converting these materials into advanced products boasting unparalleled features, setting us apart in the market.

Q: What specific initiatives or resources does this center offer to support businesses?

A: Our center serves as an invaluable resource for burgeoning businesses lacking the infrastructure of machinery and land. Entrepreneurs need only supply us with raw materials, which we adeptly transform into finished products until they’re financially capable of independent manufacturing. Alternatively, they can adopt a phased approach, gradually investing as their business cycle progresses. Throughout this journey, we remain steadfast in our support, ensuring a smooth transition into self-sufficiency.

Our commitment extends beyond mere provision; we actively engage in diverse activities, with a particular focus on wool processing. Our innovative endeavors have yielded remarkable results, including the development of wool-based denim—a breakthrough in textile manufacturing. Moreover, we’ve explored novel combinations, such as merging wool with denim and jute, pushing the boundaries of material versatility and market potential.

Q: What is our competitive position within the sports products market relative to other international brands?

A: At our research institution, collaboration with industry partners is fundamental to our mission. My role encompasses ensuring that every project we undertake aligns with our objective of commercialization. This means delivering solutions that not only surpass current market offerings in terms of affordability but also push the boundaries of innovation. We’re committed to producing products that are not only economically accessible but also technically robust, embodying the latest advancements.

Moreover, sustainability is at the forefront of our efforts, guiding us to develop solutions that minimize environmental impact. In essence, we aim to create commercially viable, affordable, technically sound, and sustainable innovations.

Q: What is the current number of startups collaborating or partnering with your organization?

A: At present, we have formed partnerships with around seven startups, with five having successfully graduated from our program, illustrating a continuous process of growth and development. Furthermore, textile mills, whether facing under capacity or operating with fully loaded machines, contribute to our cause by extending their support. Our dedication remains unwavering as we strive to uphold our commitment to fostering innovation, promoting sustainability, and providing assistance to the industry. Through these initiatives, we aim to create a collaborative ecosystem that nurtures emerging talent, drives positive change, and ensures the long-term success and resilience of the industries we serve.

Wool Research Association Developing New Variations in Wool by Adding Natural Fibers
Wool Research Association Developing New Variations in Wool by Adding Natural Fibers
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