Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
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21 May 2008 PR 08/63

Student competition launched to find UK’s most innovative sports concepts

The hunt is on to find the UK’s most innovative sports concepts designed by students. Loughborough University, the UK’s leading university for sports performance, sports science and engineering, is seeking exciting new ideas for sports apparel, footwear and equipment being developed by final-year undergraduates or postgraduates.

The Gatsby Innovation Awards for Student Entrepreneurs will provide talented students with an outstanding opportunity to learn from experts in Loughborough University’s Sports Technology Institute, a £15M initiative to develop cutting edge technology to support future British champions. 

Four finalists will be chosen to attend an intensive innovation workshop where they will be mentored by those with first-hand experience of developing novel sports concepts for major brands. They will also receive advice on how to protect their idea and make a compelling business case.

The finalists will pitch their ideas at an awards event in July where the top prize of £5,000 will be awarded. The judging panel will include leading sports science and technology researchers, a former Olympic athlete and business development experts.

“Promising sports concepts are being developed by students, but a lack of funds and guidance often stalls progress,” says Institute Director Professor Mike Caine. He continues, “As specialists in research led innovation, partnering leading brands including adidas, Canterbury, Dunlop-Slazenger and Nike, Loughborough University Sports Technology Institute is well-placed to support student entrepreneurs. We can draw from our own experience in developing and pitching novel ideas and starting up businesses to help boost their chances of success.”

The Gatsby Innovation Awards are funded by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, one of the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts, in partnership with Loughborough University Sports Technology Institute, a £15 million partnership with emda, The East Midlands Development Agency, to enhance research, innovation and enterprise in the sport and leisure sector.

The Awards are open to all final-year undergraduates or postgraduates enrolled at UK universities. The deadline is 27 June. Any stage of novel sports technology (apparel / footwear / equipment) will be considered, provided a strong case for its commercial potential can be made. Further details including a simple online application form are available at http://www.sports-technology.com/gatsby


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  1. Loughborough University Sports Technology Institute (http://www.sports-technology.com) 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 Direct International (Dunlop Slazenger) on the design, simulation, testing and manufacture of sports equipment. Sited on Loughborough’s Science and Enterprise Park, the Institute benefits from synergies with the University’s sports scientists and its unique concentration of elite athletes, world-class sports facilities and strategic partners including UK Sport and the English Institute of Sport.
  2. 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.
  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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