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13 March 2007 PR 07/29

£15 million Sports Technology Institute set for Loughborough University

A £15 million state-of-the-art Sports Technology Institute is being created at Loughborough University, in partnership with East Midlands Development Agency (emda).

The Institute will develop cutting-edge technology to assist the country’s elite athletes in their preparation for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, as well as significantly enhance research, innovation and enterprise in the sport and leisure sector throughout the region, and beyond.

Due to open later this year, the Institute will become home to the University’s world-leading Sports Technology Research Group. The Group has an international reputation for its work with global brands on the design, simulation, testing and manufacture of sports equipment. Industrial collaborators include adidas, Callaway Golf, Canterbury of New Zealand, Head, New Balance, Nike, Reebok, Sports World International (Dunlop Slazenger) and Umbro. Recent high profile projects include partnering adidas in the development and validation of their revolutionary 2006 World Cup football; development of personalised football boots for premiership players, using state of the art rapid manufacturing technologies; and work with Nike and Umbro on next generation garments for England’s rugby and football teams.

emda has awarded £5.4 million towards the creation of the Institute. The University is investing a further £6.5 million, along with extra funding for equipment. The cash will be used to purchase and refurbish the former Motorola building, located next to the University’s Holywell Park, to house the new facility. It is anticipated that the Sports Technology Research Group will secure further ongoing funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the sporting goods industry to enable additional investment in equipment and staff. The Group is also holding discussions with UK Sport to determine how the Institute can best support GB athletes aiming for Olympic medal success.

  Loughborough's Sports Technology Research Group is currently working with a leading specialist footwear brand to develop customised sprint shoes to enhance individual athlete's performance.

Speaking about the announcement Loughborough University’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Shirley Pearce, said: “The Institute will act as a focal point for the region’s economic base in sport and leisure, becoming a beacon of best practice, enjoying global visibility and generating immense interest from industry. It represents a major advancement in this area of research, and enables us to lead in this field, both in the UK and across the world. I am delighted to acknowledge emda’s invaluable investment and enthusiasm for the University’s preparation for the 2012 Games.”

Head of the Sports Technology Research Group, Professor Roy Jones, added: “With emda’s support we will be able to further amplify the impact of our research and development activities, thereby establishing Loughborough University and the East Midlands as international leaders in this field.”

Jeff Moore welcomed the partnership with Loughborough University. He added: “emda is delighted to support this exciting initiative which supports the vision for the East Midlands to become a flourishing region. It will also help the East Midlands’ contribution to the sport and leisure industry and create a successful sporting legacy long after the London 2012 Games.”

Loughborough, the country’s premier university for sports development, research and training, is the perfect base for the Institute. It has an unparalleled record of sporting excellence and some of the most celebrated names in sport have studied at Loughborough. These include world record-breaking athletes Sebastian Coe, David Moorcroft, Paula Radcliffe and Steve Backley; probably the greatest-ever Paralympian Tanni Grey-Thompson; and England’s World Cup-winning rugby coach Sir Clive Woodward. Today the University continues to nurture the sporting stars of the future – including athletes who will represent Great Britain in the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The research conducted by the Sports Technology Institute will help these athletes and the sports governing bodies prepare for the 2012 Games, providing them with state-of-the-art training equipment, performance-monitoring devices to enhance coaching and customised clothing and footwear. After the 2012 Games the legacy of an elite athlete support centre and technology hub for regional sports enterprise activities will remain.

The University’s Institute Director designate, Dr Mike Caine added: “Not only will our work aid the country’s elite athletes, it will also provide a perfect vehicle to foster longer term innovation in a broader range of sports and active pursuits. This, in turn, will contribute significantly to regional enterprise and to the health and wellbeing of the nation via the development of novel play, fitness and sports equipment for use by all.”

ENDS

For all media enquiries contact:

Notes for editors:

  1. Images of the cutting-edge research conducted by the Loughborough University Sports Technology Research Group can be obtained from the Public Relations Office.

  2. The Sports Technology Institute will form part of the University’s 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). For further information about the work of the group visit: www.sports-technology.com

  3. East Midlands Development Agency (emda) 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. The new Regional Economic Strategy - ‘A Flourishing Region’, co-ordinated by emda, sets out priorities for the region until 2020. Its publication follows the most comprehensive consultation ever undertaken in the East Midlands where more than 1,400 stakeholders and partners, and thousands of members of the public had their say on the future of the region. The RES highlights the themes of productivity, sustainability and equality and is underpinned by ten priorities. The new RES builds on the previous two strategies ‘Prosperity Through People’ and ‘Destination 2010’. For more details visit: www.emda.org.uk.

  4. Sport is important to the UK economy. In England more than 400,000 people are employed in sport related activities, 32,000 of these in sport related manufacturing. In the East Midlands alone total sport-related employment is circa 35,000 with over 5,000 in sports related manufacturing. The total sport related gross value added exceeds £810 million for the East Midlands, with 15.8 percent of this – the highest percentage for any UK region – coming from sports related manufacturing.

  5. UK Sport has been active in helping to specify requirements for the Sports Technology Institute; they have a vision for providing support to GB Olympic athletes via the establishment of a Centre of Excellence within Sports Engineering to be created around the Sports Technology Research Group at Loughborough University.

  6. Loughborough has an established reputation for excellence in teaching and research, strong links with industry, and unrivalled sporting achievement. Assessments of teaching quality by the Quality Assurance Agency place it in the top flight of UK universities; the National Student Survey ranked Loughborough in the top five among full-time students; and industry highlights the University in its top five for graduate recruitment. Around 40% of Loughborough’s income is for research, and 60% for teaching. The University has been awarded five Queen's Anniversary Prizes: for its collaboration with aerospace and automotive companies such as BAE Systems, Ford and Rolls Royce; for its work in developing countries; for pioneering research in optical engineering; for its world-leading role in sports research, education and development; and for its outstanding work in evaluating and helping to develop social policy-related programmes.

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