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Two groups of students – from Leeds Metropolitan University and Nottingham Trent University – saw their work on show at last week’s international trade fair, the Milan Furniture Fair. What advice would you give to students to get their products to market?

‘Be prepared to invest in learning and developing your business skills – they don’t come automatically to most people, so grab what you can. If that’s not for you, then try to team up with sympathetic business people who recognise your skills and talent. Either route is likely to involve some compromise of creative purity in favour of commercial reality, but the end result will be worth it when you see your work manufactured.’

Harry Rich, Business director, Design Council

‘First of all you should definitely network – and use any contacts you make along the way shamelessly. Communicate why you think your designs stand out from the crowd by asking yourself, “what is the key differentiator?”. Be professional, value what you have created and fund a European design registration. Also ensure that you have good, solid terms and conditions of business to support well presented marketing material. Then blast the appropriate preview trade media with buzzy and informative press releases with good and usable graphics.’

Dids Macdonald, Chief executive officer, Anti Copying In Design

‘Is it not time for the design fraternity to get its act together and persuade a selected group of business ‘angels’ to consider that investment in new design is not only good for the soul, it is also good for their bank balance? However tenacious our design graduates may be at marketing their ideas, they still need a lot of help to overcome the inertia of UK business when it comes to investment in innovation and creativity. Is it too much to expect the new regimes within the design industry representative bodies to pick up this particular challenge?’

Callum Lumsden, Managing director, Lumsden Design Partnership

‘First, you have to be patient. Choose your production and marketing partners with great care and ensure that they are part of the team. Be in control of your vision, but be flexible and evaluate advice and criticism rather than dismiss it. Always have your target customer at the centre of all your endeavours and decisions. My last piece of advice is to continue to learn from the experience and enjoy the challenge.’

Paul King, Creative design consultant

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