Updated on: 18 June 2014
A new, world class centre of excellence and innovation for Scottish mountain biking has been opened in Glentress in the Borders.
The Mountain Bike Centre of Scotland is a £300,000 multi-use facility which will support businesses undertaking commercial product development projects, testing and launch events for the sport.
In its first two years, the centre aims to help businesses launch five new products or services, drive three development projects, support 25 business start-ups and within five years generate an additional £1.5m in turnover.
The centre, the result of a project led by Scottish Enterprise in partnership with main funders the Scottish Funding Council and Edinburgh Napier University, recognises the importance of mountain biking in Scotland. The most recent economic impact study states that the sport generates around £120M annually for the Scottish economy.
Alistair McKinnon, Director for the South of Scotland at Scottish Enterprise, said: “This is a fantastic addition for Scotland to support one of the fastest-growing sports in the country, with a real focus on driving innovation and business growth. Already we have evidence of a developing culture of innovation between businesses and academia and the centre will build on this with significant engagement from Scottish Enterprise’s innovation support.
“A national asset aiming to reach an international market, the Mountain Bike Centre for Scotland firmly positions Scotland as the home of mountain biking in the UK - and possibly Europe.
“Our ambition is to grow the international interest in Scotland as a centre of excellence for the sport, encouraging international brands to use Scotland for product development, testing and launch, and for international teams to use our facilities in increasing numbers. All of this will act as a catalyst for increasing tourism revenue across the whole of Scotland.”
Laurence Howells, chief executive of the Scottish Funding Council, added: “The Funding Council is delighted to support this fantastic new £300,000 facility. Mountain biking is a growing part of the Scottish tourism economy and this exciting initiative will help to develop new products, start new small businesses and improve athletes’ performance through working together with Scottish universities.”
The new centre is a further boost for the profile of mountain biking in Scotland, with the sport featuring in Glasgow 2014 and hot on the heels of another successful World Cup in Fort William earlier this month and the success of the first Scottish leg of the Enduro World Series at Tweedlove the week previously. The International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) has rated Scotland as a “global superstar” on two occasions; the first destination to record back-to-back honours in this hotly contested category.
Funding for the Centre has been provided by the Scottish Funding Council and Edinburgh Napier University who are underwriting the project. The funding will provide two dedicated academic resources, engage the services of a Business Development Executive and part-time administrative support with a focus on evidence of knowledge transfer and the educational link to business.
The centre is located near one of the famous 7stanes trails in the Tweed Valley. Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland (DMBinS) will relocate from the Scottish Cycling offices at the Velodrome in Glasgow whilst Edinburgh Napier University and Borders Academy of Sporting Excellence (BASE Downhill) will use the Centre as a test and proving facility for mountain bike products, as an outreach sports science support base for the work they do with elite athletes and for vocational training purposes.
Dr Geraint Florida-James, a Reader in Sports Science at Edinburgh Napier University, and lead academic on the project said: “The Mountain Bike Centre of Scotland will give us a superb opportunity to build on Scotland’s expertise in the science and practice of this exciting and growing sport.
“It will allow us to bring academic expertise to bear on new products produced here in Scotland, while showing international companies that if their product can work in the challenging conditions of the Scottish climate, it will work anywhere.”
Cabinet Secretary for Commonwealth Games, Sport, Equalities and Pensioners’ Rights, Shona Robison said: “Set in the beautiful scenery of the Borders, Glentress has everything it needs to succeed as a centre of excellence. Scotland has an enviable international reputation for mountain biking and the new centre at Glentress is a great addition to the area that will help grow employment, tourism and business. It’s a unique centre combining inviting trails, commercial innovation with university research and teaching as well as elite athlete training. I am looking forward to seeing the centre’s reputation grow and develop over the years to come.”
Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland Project Manager, Graeme McLean said: “Mountain Biking in Scotland has gone from strength to strength since the start of the Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland project in 2009 and I am thrilled that we are a part establishing the Mountain Bike Centre of Scotland.
The Centre will provide a great base for Scotland to continue to showcase and maximise what Scottish Mountain Biking has to offer, whether it be supporting mountain bike innovation, continuing the sporting success of our elite athletes, driving participation, or growing tourism and economic development. The centre will allow Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland, supported by our partners, to continue the work we are currently doing with the mountain bike community."
Scottish Cycling’s Chief Executive, Craig Burn said: “Scottish Cycling is delighted to partner with Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland, Edinburgh Napier University, Borders Collage and Scottish Enterprise to create the Mountain Bike Centre of Scotland.
Over the past 10 years cycling in Scotland has gone from a minority pastime to a become one of the UK's fastest growing sports and right across Scotland and the UK we have seen a substantial growth in the number of people taking part in cycling. Centres of excellence, like the one here at Glentress, will provide a unique space for our elite athletes and performance coaches to continue to work from but also drive innovation, development and help recognise Scotland as a world leader in Mountain Bike development.”
Mountain biking is Scotland’s second-most popular adventure activity after walking and in recent years visitor numbers to Glentress alone have grown from 186,000 to 301,000. In 2011 UK sales of mountain bikes reached £175.5m, UK mountain bike accessory sales for the same period reached £155m and EU total bike sales were worth a staggering £3.9bn. All of this demonstrates the growth in both participation and expenditure in a sport in which Scotland is seen currently to be a leader in terms of trails and skills development.