A partnership between a Shropshire company and the
University of Wolverhampton which helped transform the business has
won a national award.
Tough Furniture designs and manufactures products for
challenging environments such as Young Offender Institutes, care
homes, mental health units and individuals with learning
The company, based in Craven Arms, enlisted the help of the
University’s School of Art and Design as part of a two-year
Knowledge Transfer Partnership.
KTPs are UK-wide programmes which enable organisations to
improve their competitiveness, productivity and performance through
a partnership with an academic institution.
The partnership won the Special Recognition category at The
Impact Awards, run by PraxisUnico.
The awards showcase outstanding contributions to society and the
economy through innovation and had more than 100 entries.
The University provided help to revolutionise the company’s
design processes by mentoring a Product Design graduate to help
provide a dedicated design capability.
As well as being able to benefit from the transfer of skills to
their workforce, Tough Furniture was also able to have access to
University facilities, such as rapid prototyping and specialist
training in photography and Photoshop to aid its in-house sales and
Since the KTP was run the company’s profits have increased by 20
Tough Furniture Managing Director, David Vesty, said: “As a
small specialised company, Tough Furniture has always endeavoured
to punch above its weight.
“The new design technology delivered by the KTP with the
University of Wolverhampton transformed our ability to do this in
production, customer service, marketing and product
“To be awarded ‘Special Recognition’ for this at such a
prestigious event as the Praxisunico Impact Awards has been
inspirational for the whole team here.”
Rob Cooksey, senior lecturer in Furniture Design at the
University, mentored graduate Rhys Thomas through the scheme. He
said: “Supervising KTP partnerships like Tough Furniture, is a
wonderful opportunity to keep abreast of design developments in the
furniture industry and the individual needs of manufacturing
“Using the company as an example of design in practice makes my
teaching more relevant and impactful to students on our applied
design undergraduate programmes and demonstrates how valuable their
contribution can be to companies seeking new graduates”
Note: PraxisUnico is an educational
not-for-profit organisation set up to support innovation and
commercialisation of public sector and charity research for social
and economic impact.
Picture Caption (from left to right): David
Vesty, MD Tough Furniture, Barbara Vesty, Director Tough Furniture,
Nigel Jordan, from the University’s Business Solutions Centre,
awards presenter Maggie Philbin and Dr Douglas Robertson,
For media inquiries please contact James Allen in the Media
Relations Office on 01902 322003.
Date Issued: Thursday 21 June 2012
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