Working with universities to create live briefs and modules works both ways; students receive real-world experience, often at the cutting edge of that industry. Small companies then receive access to the latest technology in the industry and get to work with creative, passionate students who are eager to learn.

At Milano Pro Sport, we were looking at different funding streams with Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU). They identified a synergy between us and the Manchester School of Fashion Design and Technology, so arranged for me speak to the department.

In the meantime, we also spoke to a number of other local universities to see if we could work together. Initially, we approached with a view of future recruitment; however it transpired that the projects were not limited to just recruitment and lead to involvement in marketing modules and working with the students on projects and live briefs.

We had a great response from Lancaster University who set up two live briefs with us, one with a marketing module and another working on a postgraduate project with business studies students. The first brief worked with marketing and social media, which we could use some help, and the other looks at how we can expand by generating sales through direct advertising and foreign sales. The students used these as their final project so it was very important to them.

The projects we are planning to work on with MMU students are slightly different, concentrating on the technical aspects of manufacturing leotards. We have also had a student of theirs gaining work experience with us.

MMU have fantastic facilities which are great for testing fabrics, concepts, movements and stress points on athletes, we can test the strain and breaking points on a gymnast leotard and by working with the students on live projects we can give some value back to the university.

I’m delighted to say that because we’re a relatively small company the projects the students work on can be directly relevant to the business, and they can see the real impact of their work with us. Both parties have got a tremendous amount from the process, and we feel it’s a real worthwhile experience that we would recommend others to get involved with.

By Neil Fox, Managing Director of Milano Pro Sport. Milano Pro Sport specialise in top quality leotards worn by international sports people from all over the world. Milano has been proud to be a part of the emergence of British Gymnastics as a world power in the sport, supplying spectacular leotards that performed as good as they looked.