The new 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.
East Midlands Development Agency 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.
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”.
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 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”.