Thursday, 17 February 2022 09:55

Woolly thinking pays off

Written by  Staff Reporters
Logan Williams, a guest speaker at the East Coast Farming Expo, has created what could be ‘the’ answer for the struggling strong wool industry. Logan Williams, a guest speaker at the East Coast Farming Expo, has created what could be ‘the’ answer for the struggling strong wool industry.

Serial entrepreneur Logan Williams will be a guest speaker at this month's East Coast Farming Expo.

He may only still be in his 20s, but Williams has a track record that is the envy of many. The inventor and entrepreneur has already developed and sold four inventions to international corporations, including one that could create a turning point for the struggling wool industry.

Williams is currently combining coarse wool with polylactic acid derived from corn starch and other polymers to produce Keravos pellets that can be used instead of plastic. Torpedo 7 is about to launch a kayak range made from the revolutionary material and trials are well underway with ski boots, furniture, and other products.

"Our factory in Hamilton can make four tonnes a day of these pellets, so the plan is that we partner with large companies who are already making product and away we go - plug and play," he explains.

The pellets will substitute plastic, giving farmers an income stream for a product that continues to cost them, rather than make them, money. In recent times it has cost more to shear the sheep than a farmer will recoup from the sale of the wool.

Williams says the next big move for the company is to make fabric from the pellets.

"Strong wool is itchy but if we use our pellets to make fibre, we can make a softer, finer material that isn't itchy," he explains. "They already blend wool with plastic fabric, so we will go to those garments and replace the plastic with the Keravos."

While some may see it is the saviour for New Zealand's strong wool industry, Williams is quick to say it is but a step in the right direction.

"Multiple solutions are needed; one is not enough on its own."

His mind is never still. Williams has worked alongside Fonterra to invent a device to destroy methane, as well as manufacturing biodegradable products, plastic, and fabrics from the pest algae Didymo, and a medical nebulizer. There's also something involving collagen, but it's too early to give away too much.

"I can't say I have a favourite though - it's like talking about your children!"

Williams' insatiable desire to solve problems means he is always interested in talking to people, particularly corporations.

"If larger ones are keen, than I am keen to see what their problem is. That is the big future place for me, I think. Keravos has huge potential, but the long-term goal is portfolio of companies made from inventions."

He cites the late Sir Paul Callaghan, who was recognised as a world-leading, award-winning Kiwi physicist who specialised in nanotechnology and magnetic resonance. Callaghan championed science and business as being crucial to the nation's economic growth.

"We need to transform New Zealand into a high-tech innovative country, to bring high value jobs here, bring manufacturing back and be known as an innovation hub. I am on that mission."

Williams feels agriculture is the perfect place to start.

"It offers so much opportunity and it is something we already do well, so how can we innovate in this space."

This year he's hopeful his focus will be on establishing that corporate holding company that will house 10 large and very successful innovative inventions.

Williams says he thrives on talking to farmers.

"We are the customer of the farmers and they've been hugely supportive. The way to effect change in a supply chain is to go directly to the customer and convince them to change - that's what we do."

Williams will speak on Wednesday (February 23) at the Expo 4.

Where & When

What: East Coast Farming Expo

When: February 23-24, 2022

Where: Wairoa A&P Showgrounds

More Info: www.eastcoastexpo.co.nz 

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