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9 March 2010 | PR 10/39

Progressive Sports Technologies supports
Amy Williams’ success in Vancouver

Amy Williams

Amy Williams in action

(Image: James Ruskin www.jamesruskinphoto.com)

A Loughborough University spinout company was part of the innovation team that supported Amy William’s magnificent performance in the bob skeleton competition at the Vancouver Games.  The work is the culmination of a four-year innovation project led by UK Sport and British Skeleton designed to ensure British sliders were at the cutting edge of the sport.

An exceptionally talented and dedicated athlete like Amy combined with world class coaching, sports science and medical support are, of course, the key ingredients in any gold medal winning performance.  But British Skeleton’s Performance Director Andreas Schmid recognised that taking an innovative approach to training, preparation, kit and equipment could be the icing on the cake when attempting to take on and beat the world’s best winter sport nations. 

Progressive Sports Technologies (Progressive) contributed to a range of research and innovation projects, coordinated by UK Sport, on behalf of the GB winter sport athletes.  One of the main activities was to assist with the development of equipment prototypes to test as part of the aerodynamic development programme. The Progressive team, particularly Joe Santry, also contributed to an investigation into competition preparation routines for individual athletes.  Using an infra-red camera and skin sensor technologies, the research team explored the impact of various preparation strategies on muscle temperatures and sprint performance.

Progressive is a sports innovation company originating from the Sports Technology Research Group, based within the recently opened £15M Sports Technology Institute at Loughborough University.  Progressive provides a comprehensive range of research-led new product development services to sporting goods companies, including global brands such as Nike, Speedo and Umbro.  The company also have a growing portfolio of granted patents and have secured licensing deals to commercialise its inventions.
The Institute is an official innovation partner to UK Sport. Other research collaborations between the Sports Technology Research Group and UK Sport include projects involving GB Wheelchair Basketball, British Swimming and British Cycling.  A recent boost to this activity is the Institute’s input into the £8.5M Elite Sport Research in Training with Pervasive Sensing (ESPRIT) project to develop miniaturised wearable and track-side sensors, computer modelling tools and smart training devices to boost British athletes’ performance.  This major initiative is funded by the EPSRC, led by Imperial College London, in partnership with UK Sport and Queen Mary College, University of London.

“We were delighted to see Amy Williams’ skill and dedication rewarded with the ultimate accolade,” said Professor Mike Caine, Director of the Sports Technology Institute and Progressive.  “We are very proud to have contributed to UK Sports’ innovation team and to use our expertise to make such a positive impact.”

Dr Scott Drawer, Head of Research and Innovation at UK Sport, said: “The knowledge and expertise that Loughborough University contributes is critical to our work in seeking out that extra tiny drop of performance from Britain’s best athletes as we aim to help them be among the best prepared, and most feared by their competitors, when they reach the start line.  We couldn’t do this without input from our partners in industry and academia who can apply their varied knowledge and expertise to the increasingly sophisticated world of high performance sport.”

−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-technology.co.uk)
The Sports Technology 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. 
The Institute is supported by emda, the East Midlands Development Agency, in acknowledgement of the significant wealth potential that sport brings to the region.

2.  UK Sport  (www.uksport.gov.uk)
UK Sport is the Government agency responsible for investing in and supporting our Olympic and Paralympic sports and athletes.  It currently invests around £100 million a year in the World Class Performance Programme, supporting 1,400 athletes across Olympic and Paralympic sports.  It underpins this investment through providing dedicated services to sports and athletes, such as Elite Coach, Talent ID, and Research and Innovation.

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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