Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP): School of Architecture and Design and Mooncup Ltd, Brighton

The School of Architecture and Design has entered a Knowledge Transfer Partnership with Mooncup Ltd, Brighton, running over 27 months in 2009‐12. The KTP is worth a total of £126,529, and is funded externally through the Technology Strategy Board.

The Government's Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) is a long established and successful grant supported scheme, which facilitates partnerships between businesses and universities. KTP helps companies draw on knowledge‐based expertise at the University of Brighton by supporting key projects whilst developing able graduates into roles as future business leaders. It offers all partners a realistic way to contribute to the nation’s wealth, while complementing both research and teaching.

Dr Catherine Harper, Head of the School of Architecture and Design, leads this KTP with Toni Hicks, Area Leader for Knitted Textiles, as Knowledge Base Supervisor. Other university members of staff contributing to the project are Kelly Sant (Area Co‐Leader for Plastics, School of Architecture and Design), Jenny Hassall (Senior Lecturer in Midwifery, School of Healthcare Professions), Lyvia Royd‐Taylor (Senior Lecturer in Marketing, Brighton Business School), Dr Lyuba Mikhalovska (School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences), and Dr Mark Jones (Head of the Collaborative Training Centre).

Mooncup Ltd is a Brighton based business that manufactures and distributes the Mooncup menstrual cup, and currently employs eight women. The Mooncup team believe that reusable sanitary protection has the potential to greatly improve women's experience of menstruation as well as reducing the environmental damage caused by the manufacture and disposal of throwaway products. Mooncup Ltd is guided by environmentally and people friendly business practices.

The Mooncup is available worldwide, both online and through retail outlets: it is the European market leading product of its type, and sales continue to grow on a year‐by‐year basis. Euromonitor forecasts retail sales of all sanitary protection items for 2010 as worth £318.4 million, and the total UK retail sales value of reusable sanitary protection is estimated currently at £1.5 million pa. Mooncup’s improved knowledge of the sanitary protection market and the associated optimisation and utilisation of routes to market and promotion is expected to lead to an increase in the company’s share of the market and the overall growth of the market share taken by reusables, This will be further enhanced through the improved understanding of consumer expectations and behaviour developed during the project. As well as commercial impact, this KTP will have impact in sustainable product development, in a sector where waste management estimates related to disposal of sanitary protection products (incineration, landfill dumping or flushing out to sea) are based on an approximate usage of a total of 17,000 sanitary products by each menstruating woman in the UK (Women’s Environmental Network).

This project will enable a KTP Associate to play a major role in a strategic collaborative project between University of Brighton and Mooncup Ltd to develop and embed a formal new product development process within the business, from market analysis to product realisation, manufacture and delivery to market. The Associate, who will be appointed at the end of 2009, will be encouraged to enrol as a research degree student at the university. Project outcomes will include journal publications and conference papers, beginning with presentation of the project by Catherine Harper at the International Federation of Fashion and Technology Institutes conference on Fashion: Sustainability and Creativity (FuJen Catholic University, Taiwan, 2010).