Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 263171
Loughborough University

Enterprise Awards 2014

International Impact

people with bicycles  and a city skyline

Ministry of Supply

Industry lead
Gihan Amarasiriwardena, Ministry of Supply
Loughborough expert
Ben Halkon, Sports Technology Institute
Industry partner
Ross Weir, Director, Progressive Sports Technologies (Loughborough University spin out)

Office-wear could use a revolution. For many, the daily grind involves commuting on crowded public transport, or working up a sweat as we cycle or walk to the office. Fluctuating temperatures as we go in and outdoors and with the changing seasons, coupled with sitting at our desks for long periods…it’s no wonder our clothes get creases and odours.

A group of graduates from MIT sought to change this by borrowing temperature-control technology from NASA. Adding some unique innovations of their own, they created Ministry of Supply – a unique range of office-wear that behaves like high performance sportswear.

One year before the company’s launch, co-Founder and CEO, Gihan Amarasiriwardena, gained invaluable insights into how compression and moisture wicking can optimise the performance of sports apparel, whilst working at Loughborough on an exchange programme with MIT. He returned again the following year, to further refine his knowledge of strain mapping in fabrics.

During his time at Loughborough, Gihan worked on cutting-edge product innovation assignments for global sportswear brands in the Sports Technology Institute and Progressive Sports Technologies, a Loughborough University spin out company. Returning to MIT, he applied this knowledge to develop high performance fabrics with a host of high tech features that dynamically respond to the wearer’s needs.

Gihan and his MIT classmates launched two Kickstarter campaigns to raise $30k to take Ministry of Supply’s first two products to market.  The public were so impressed by their Apollo Shirt that manages heat, odour and moves in two phases to banish creases, and Atlas Sock with a built-in odour filter, that they committed over $633k. Ministry of Supply have subsequently raised over $2M in Venture Capital.

Ministry of Supply has earned widespread respect from investors and consumers alike and sells its extended range of office-wear online at www.ministryofsupply.com.

Gihan is one of circa 15 MIT graduates to have participated in the Loughborough exchange to work on projects involving global brands such as adidas, Burton snowboards, Nike and New Balance. Loughborough’s alliance with MIT was further strengthened in March 2014, at the launch of a global initiative to promote innovation-based entrepreneurial ecosystems.

IMPACT

  • Sports Technology Institute knowledge transferred to produce innovative products
  • Cutting edge technology transforms the humble shirt – a product relatively unchanged in over 100 years
  • Graduate start-up smashes crowd funder record for fashion campaign, achieving over 20 times the requested level of investment
  • Loughborough joins MIT in global initiative to promote entrepreneurial communities

 

Frame from video Play video Apollo dress shirt on Kickstarter

 

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