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Leicestershire, UK
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15 October 2007 PR 07/130
Up to £50K grants to develop novel sporting
goods concepts and technologies


Now licensed exclusively to Reebok, the Gripmasters concept offers the sports enthusiast a novel solution to fingerless gloves for outstanding comfort and performance whilst training. The concept was developed by Ross Weir, co-founder of Loughborough University spin out Progressive Sports Technologies.

Loughborough University’s Sports Technology Institute has today launched a nation-wide competition to accelerate the development of novel concepts and technologies in the sporting goods and leisure sector.

Lone inventors, small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) can apply for Innovation Awards of up to £50K, enabling them access to a wealth of specialist technical, managerial and marketing expertise to boost the commercial prospects of their ideas.

The initiative is funded by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation and is led by Loughborough University’s Sports Technology Institute, a £15M venture with the East Midlands Development Agency to boost enterprise in the sport and leisure sector and develop cutting-edge technology to assist elite athletes in preparation for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The Institute is home to Loughborough’s Sports Technology Research Group which has an international reputation for its work with global brands including adidas, Callaway Golf, Canterbury of New Zealand, Head, Umbro, New Balance, Nike, Reebok and Sports World International (Dunlop Slazenger) on the design, simulation, testing and manufacture of sports equipment.

“A lack of early stage funding stalls the progression to mass manufacture or licensing for many promising concepts in sports footwear, apparel and equipment,” says Institute Director, Professor Mike Caine. He adds, “Due to Loughborough’s leading reputation in sports technology and performance, smaller organisations and lone inventors often approach us for support. The Gatsby funding means we can extend our successful track record of helping them to develop novel technologies for commercial exploitation and this includes securing public sector grants and private equity funding.”

Mike concludes: “The Institute has the credibility and resource to boost networking across the sporting goods sector, to help companies become more competitive through innovation. The Gatsby initiative will enable us to build practical and rapid response assistance into a longer term plan to build service and supply chain relationships between SMEs and the world’s leading sporting goods manufacturers.”

Any stage of novel sports technology or related service will be considered for the Gatsby Innovation Awards, provided a strong case for the commercial potential can be made. Ideas do not have to be formally protected (eg by patent, copyright, design right) but they must demonstrate originality.

The first call for applications closes on Friday 18 January 2008. For more details visit http://www.sports-technology.co.uk.


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Notes for editors:

  1. The Gatsby Charitable Foundation (http://www.gatsby.org.uk) is one of the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts. It is an endowed grant-making trust and its Trust Deed states that it has general charitable objectives. Trustees can therefore give money to any charitable cause. Over more than 30 years of grant making, the Trustees have chosen to concentrate their support in a limited number of fields of activity. One such field is the encouragement of technology transfer between universities and industry.
  2. Loughborough University Sports Technology Institute (http://www.sports-technology.com) is part of the Wolfson School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering. The Sports Technology Research Group has grown rapidly in recent years, facilitated largely by the research funding it has received from the University’s Innovative Manufacturing and Construction Research Centre (IMCRC). The IMCRC brings together a multi-disciplinary group of over 40 academic staff undertaking leading-edge collaborative research to enhance the processes, products, and competitiveness of the UK's manufacturing and construction industries.
  3. East Midlands Development Agency (http://www.emda.org.uk/main/) was set up in 1999 to bring more jobs and skills to the region and to make the East Midlands a better place to live and work. emda's support for the Sports Technology Institute aligns with the Regional Economic Strategy 'A Flourishing Region' which identifies sport as important to the region's economy. In the East Midlands, the total sport related gross value added exceeds £810 million, with 15.8 percent of this - the highest percentage for any UK region - coming from sports related manufacturing.
  4. The English Institute of Sport (http://www.eis2win.co.uk/gen/) is a nationwide network of world-class sport science and medical support services, designed to foster the talents of our elite athletes. The EIS are working closely with Loughborough University to ensure that the Sports Technology Institute contains the equipment necessary for scientific assessment of high performance athletes.
  5. The Federation of Sports and Play Associations (http://www.sportsandplay.com) (FSPA) is the national trade body representing the UK ’s sports and play industries these include manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, sales agents, retailers and operators of sports and play goods and services. The FSPA works actively in its aim to 'increase participation in sports and play and to promote, foster and protect industry growth and vitality'. Working with the FSPA on National and European R & D projects makes Loughborough’s Sports Technology Institute well placed to promote its services, whilst using its network to communicate and disseminate information to the UK's sporting goods and play sector.
  6. UK Sport (http://www.uksport.gov.uk) works in partnership to lead sport in the UK to world-class success. Part of this vision is to ensure that innovation in sports equipment, apparel and footwear is harnessed to maximise the potential of future British champions. It is working closely with Loughborough University to create a national centre of excellence at the forefront of sports technology to achieve this goal.
  7. Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for excellence in teaching and research, strong links with industry and unrivalled sporting achievement.

    It is a member of the esteemed 1994 Group – a set of internationally recognised, research intensive universities – and has a reputation for the relevance of its work. Its degree programmes are highly regarded by professional institutions and businesses, and its graduates are consistently targeted by the UK’s top recruiters.

    Loughborough is also the UK’s premier university for sport. It has perhaps the best integrated sports development environment in the world and is home to some of the country’s leading coaches, sports scientists and support staff. It also has the country’s largest concentration of world-class training facilities across a wide range of sports.

    In the 2007 National Student Survey, the University was voted fourth in the UK, with 23 out of 29 of Loughborough’s subject areas being ranked in the top ten for overall satisfaction. Loughborough is also ranked in the top five of UK universities in national league tables and was named winner of the 2006 THES award for the UK’s Best Student Experience. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded five Queen's Anniversary Prizes – an achievement bettered by no other university.

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