The sheep industry has been informed that its Phase I proposal, Washable Wool Products for Individual Protection, submitted to the Army Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program has been competitively selected and a contract was awarded on Jan. 12.
"The sheep industry has a long history of working with the military to develop products that will better protect and safeguard our troops," commented Rita Kourlis Samuelson, marketing director for the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI). "ASI has great resources as well as close relationships within the textile industry to develop a superior product with the funding through this program."
The SBIR program allows small, U.S. businesses with less than 500 employees the opportunity to provide innovative research and development solutions in response to critical Department of Defense (DOD) needs. Each quarter the DOD publishes a series of solicitations for solutions to problems they are experiencing.
On July 27, 2009, the Army released A09-165, Washable Wool Products for Individual Protection. The objective of this solicitation was the development of a novel, low-cost treatment that renders wool fabrics machine washable and dryable in a field environment with little to no shrinkage.
The American Sheep Industry, through its wholly owned for-profit company, Sheep Venture Company (SVC), submitted the proposal that was ultimately selected.
Phase I, a six month contract worth $70,000, explores the problem and possible solutions to the solicitation in a "white paper" exercise. The work on this project will begin immediately. If Phase I is successful, the Army may invite SVC to progress to Phase II contracting worth up to $750,000 where prototypes are manufactured and tested.
"ASI is honored to be granted the opportunity to provide this work for our military," concluded Samuelson. "The grant will help us move shrink-proof machine washable wool products into the military's regular purchases."