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9 March | PR 10/38

£20k awards to boost innovation in Britain’s sporting goods and leisure sector

Loughborough University has today launched a competition to boost innovation in the British sporting goods and leisure sector.

Start-ups and small to medium-sized companies can apply for awards of up to £20K to accelerate the development of new products by accessing the world-leading expertise and specialist facilities of Loughborough University Sports Technology Institute.

This competition marks the conclusion of a highly successful initiative supported by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation that has helped British companies partner leading sports brands, launch new products and increase international sales.

Previous Gatsby Innovation Award winners include 2Thumb Grip Ltd, a Bedfordshire-based company that has invented a novel grip to help golfers achieve better putting accuracy.  The Sports Technology Institute’s independent assessment of the 2Thumb Putter Grip has helped the company build on its credibility with professional and amateur players and boost international sales.

Jaydee Enterprises, a Hampshire-based company sought the Institute’s help in developing a home fitness product that also aimed to reduce cellulite.  Collaboration with the Sports Technology Institute has resulted in a new relationship with Reebok Fitness International and independent tests that revealed an improvement in skin smoothness.

Inspired Bicycles, a trials bike designer based in Leicestershire is using the Institute’s independent assessment of a novel bike frame to drive its sales network through North America, Asia, Australia and Europe.  

“The Institute has the credibility and resource to boost networking across the sporting goods sector, to help companies become more competitive through innovation,” says Institute Director, Professor Mike Caine.  He continues, “The Gatsby initiative has helped us to build service and supply chain relationships between SMEs and the world’s leading sporting goods manufacturers.  This aligns with our strategy to make a positive impact on sport through knowledge transfer – a vision shared by our partners emda, the East Midlands Development Agency.

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 competition is open to lone inventors and small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and the deadline for applications is Monday 12 April 2010.  Further details are available at http://www.sports-technology.com/gatsby

−ENDS−

For all media enquiries contact:

Anna Seddon
Marketing Manager Enterprise
Loughborough University
T: 01509 223445
E: A.J.Seddon@lboro.ac.uk 

Notes for editors:

1. Loughborough University Sports Technology Institute  (www.sports-technoogy.com)
Loughborough University Sports Technology Institute is a £15M venture with emda, the East Midlands Development Agency. The Institute’s researchers seek to have a positive social and economic impact on sport globally through excellent engineering research and teaching. The Institute also aims 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 Sports Technology Research Group, based at the Institute has an international reputation for its work with global brands on the design, simulation, testing and manufacture of sports equipment.

2. The Gatsby Charitable Foundation  (www.gatsby.org.uk)
The Foundation is an endowed grant-making trust that has been operating for over 40 years.  Its Settlor, David Sainsbury, retired from ministerial office in November 2006, enabling him to re-engage with Gatsby’s grant-making to charitable causes and in setting the priorities for the Foundation’s future.  The Foundation's capital is provided entirely by the founder and its Trustees make grants by using the income and occasionally by drawing on the capital. They do not raise money from the public or elsewhere

3. Loughborough University
Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines

It was awarded the coveted Sunday Times University of the Year 2008-09 title, and is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in national newspaper league tables. In the 2009 National Student Survey, Loughborough was voted one of the top five universities in the UK, and has topped the Times Higher Education league for the UK’s Best Student Experience every year since the poll's inception in 2006. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded six Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

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.

It is a member of the 1994 Group of 19 leading research-intensive universities. The Group was established in 1994 to promote excellence in university research and teaching. Each member undertakes diverse and high-quality research, while ensuring excellent levels of teaching and student experience.

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