Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
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27 February 2008 PR 08/22

Olympic medallist Steve Backley attends official opening of £15 million Sports Technology Institute

Loughborough University officially launched its new £15 million Sports Technology Institute today (Wednesday 27 February 2008). Sports Technology Institute

The Institute is an exciting new venture with East Midlands Development Agency (emda) to boost enterprise in the sport and leisure sector and develop cutting-edge technology to assist the country’s elite athletes in their preparation for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Based on the edge of the University campus and part of the Loughborough Science and Enterprise Park, the Institute is home to the University’s internationally acclaimed Sports Technology Research Group. Over the last 20 years the Group has worked with some of the biggest names in the sporting goods industry, including adidas, Callaway Golf, Canterbury of New Zealand, Head, Umbro, New Balance, Nike, Reebok, Speedo and Sports World International (Dunlop Slazenger) on the design, simulation, testing and manufacture of sports equipment. Recent high profile projects include partnering adidas in the development and validation of their revolutionary 2006 World Cup and EURO 2008 footballs; 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 respectively.

Three-time Olympic medal winner and Loughborough honorary graduate Steve Backley delivered the keynote speech at the launch event, which was attended by more than 100 leaders from the sporting goods industry and sports performance organisations. The event showcased the world leading technologies being developed by the Sports Technology Research Group using the Institute’s specialist state-of-the-art facilities.

Professor Mike Caine, Director of the Institute said: “This new facility will enable us to develop cutting-edge training equipment, coaching aids and customised clothing and footwear to support the country’s elite athletes and sports governing bodies. It also provides 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.”

emda Chief Executive, Jeff Moore said: “emda is proud to have helped fund this state-of-the-art facility, which will be an inspiration to athletes and business alike. It will be instrumental in securing Loughborough University’s international reputation as a centre for sporting excellence. In the run up to London 2012 the Institute will help demonstrate the commercial potential of sporting applications and position the East Midlands at the forefront of this cutting-edge technology.”

A sculpture created by Loughborough University Fine Art graduate Phil Thompson was unveiled outside the entrance to the Institute, in recognition of emda’s generous support for the new facility. Entitled ‘Flame of ambition’, the twisted stainless steel design evokes a beacon to symbolize the endurance, determination and courage required by sportsmen and women to realise their potential.


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Notes for editors:

  1. Loughborough is the country’s premier university for sports development, research and training. 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.
  2. emda awarded £5.4 million towards the creation of the Sports Technology Institute, and the University invested a further £6.5 million, along with extra funding for equipment.
  3. 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 fifteen of UK universities in national league tables. It was named winner of the 2006 and 2007 Times Higher award for the UK’s Best Student Experience and winner of the 2007 award for Outstanding Support for Overseas Students. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded six Queen's Anniversary Prizes – an achievement bettered by no other university.

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