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MIT graduate entrepreneur inspired by University’s Sports Technology Institute

One of the founders of new clothing company revolutionising professional work wear has credited his time at Loughborough University’s Sports Technology Institute as a major driving force in developing his business ideas.

Gihan Amarasiriwardena, the Chief Executive Officer of Ministry of Supply, came to Loughborough thanks to a collaborative partnership between the Sports Technology Institute (STI) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Gihan explains his journey to Loughborough stating:

“As a boy scout growing up in the US I was very passionate about outdoor gear and I created a lot of my own clothing.  So when I was at MIT I was looking for resources that helped me pursue my interest in entrepreneurship and the process of designing performance apparel.

“I started to work with Dr Kim Blair at the Aerospace department at MIT.  He had begun a sports technology programme and part of that was a collaborative partnership with Loughborough. I was given the opportunity to spend the summers of 2009 and 2010 at the Sports Technology Institute.”

During his time at Loughborough Gihan worked on a number of research projects including Elite to High Street, which included developing a customised racing spike for Paralympian Ben Rushgrove.

Gihan also spent his time using an optical measurement system to investigate how skin stretches and deforms during movement. The insights from which have been applied to develop novel clothing designs. Gihan states:

“We think of our clothing range as an extension of the body so we begin our design process with a comprehensive understanding of how the human body works.

“A lot of the research I was involved in was an inspiration to how we go about designing products, so my time at Loughborough was some of the most influential in helping me to set up Ministry of Supply.”

Ministry of Supply, founded by Gihan and three MIT graduates, is a men’s clothing company creating ‘performance professional wear’ that takes innovation from sports and the outdoor industry.  Gihan states:

“We are really focused on inspiring confidence. We were all athletes ourselves and what we are trying to do is instil the same confidence we had on court, on the track or on the field by the clothing that we wore and the equipment that we used as athletes.

“So we are trying to figure out how to incorporate that into our everyday lives.  One of the biggest places that we have to perform is in the office.”

So far the company is going from strength to strength developing the Apollo dress shirt, which includes NASA phase-change material technology to regulate body temperatures. Ministry of Supply has a license to use the technology for the material.

More information about Gihan and Ministry of Supply can be found on the University’s Enterprise website.

http://www.lboro.ac.uk/enterprise/case-studies/researchpartnerships/cs-ministry-of-supply.html

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