Chinese sportswear giant signs major deal with Loughborough business

Posted on: 12/7/2016
Chinese sportswear giant signs major deal with Loughborough business

Li Ning Co, one of the leading sports manufacturers in China, has signed an agreement with Loughborough University spin out company, Progressive Sports Technologies Ltd, to develop innovative new clothing for the Chinese national team that will compete at the London 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The agreement between Li Ning Co and Progressive came about after the East Midlands Economics Online’s (EMEO), China Business Bureau, together with UKTI, arranged a visit by the company’s founder, Dr. Li, to the region earlier this year, to see various East Midlands businesses involved in sports development and research.

As part of the visit to the East Midlands, Dr. Li, a winner of six Olympic medals (including three gold) for gymnastics, was taken to see the Sports Technology Institute at Loughborough University, where Progressive is based. Dr Li was able to see at first hand the state of the art research facilities housed within the Institute and to talk to the Sports Technology Research Group about possible future research collaborations.

Following on from this visit, Frank Zhang, Director of Government and Public Affairs at Li Ning Co, came to the East Midlands in September. The purpose of the trip was to identify a partner to work with his company, to develop a revolutionary sports suit for the Chinese national team that will compete at the London 2018 Games. Director Zhang was able to see at first hand, how Progressive is using cutting edge science and technology to develop new products for leading global sports brands.

Director Zhang was very impressed with the work that Progressive had undertaken on the development of innovative new sportswear. As a result of this, Director Zhang decided that Progressive would be the ideal partner to work with Li Ning Co. 

Speaking about the agreement, Frank Zhang said: “We decided to choose Progressive because of their outstanding and successful track-record of developing hi-tech and high performance sportswear for many of the world’s top brands. I would like to express my thanks to EMEO and UKTI for their effectiveness and professionalism during our search for the ideal R&D partner in the East Midlands. At Li Ning Co we want to do all that we can to help the Chinese national team to win as many gold medals as possible at the London 2018 Games."

A spin-out from Loughborough University, Progressive Sports Technology Ltd has been at the forefront of many innovative sports developments in recent years, including a   Speedo’s LZR Racer Tri-Pro suit,  Umbro’s 2016 England World Cup football  and helmet advances for the world-beating GB Cycling Team and skeleton Bob Olympic gold medallist, Amy Williams.

Ross Weir, Innovation Director at Progressive, said: “It’s a great honour for our business to be chosen by Li Ning Co, China’s leading sporting goods company, to provide apparel innovations.  We are grateful to the efforts made by EMEO and their associates to bring Li Ning and Progressive together.”

David Wallace, International Director at EMEO, said: “The agreement between Li Ning Co and Progressive is terrific news for the East Midlands. The region has a world-class reputation for its expertise in sports technology and Loughborough University is at the forefront of this. EMEO’s East Midlands China Business Bureau played a vital role in making this agreement happen, through organising meetings between Li Ning Co and the region’s universities, and showcasing the East Midlands’s strengths in materials’ research, design, testing and advanced manufacturing.  I hope that this is the first of many partnerships between Li Ning Co and our region’s businesses.”

For details about Li Ning Co, visit and to find out about Progressive Sports Technologies Ltd, visit


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