IMechE report calls for more support for the sports engineering sector

The UK must increase support for the sports engineering sector to grow start-ups and maintain its leading role in sports engineering research, a report from IMechE has found.


Titled ‘Sustainable, Inclusive, Innovative: The Role of Engineering in Sport’, the report calls for increased investment in specialist facilities for testing sporting technologies and trialling them in environments that closely match real-life conditions.

IMechE suggest that the facilities should be accessible to researchers, allowing them to test the equipment they have designed to help bring it to market.

The Institution further claims that the sports industry has shown evidence of its commitment to sustainability but that more action is needed.

The report recommends that sports technology providers should embrace independently audited ecolabels to help transition to more sustainable materials and manufacturing in the sector.

In a statement, Dr Thomas Allen, co-author of the report and a reader in Mechanical Engineering at Manchester Metropolitan University, said: “The UK is a leader in sports engineering and with more support this could grow into an exciting network of home-grown start-ups to boost the economy.

“The challenge is to bring new and innovative sporting goods to market, which should ideally meet the needs of as many people as possible while having minimal impact on the environment.”

It was found that sporting goods can be difficult to repurpose or recycle and large volumes can end up in landfill. The reports suggests that recycling can be improved by simplifying products, designing them to be disassembled and to have fewer materials and parts.

IMechE also calls for open-access standardised data to be the norm in sports engineering, which could ensure sports technologies meet the needs of as many people as possible, with data taken from wide and diverse groups of people. According to  the report, more open-access databases would help achieve this.

Carly Nettleford, a member of the Institution and co-author of the report, said: “Sport plays such an important role in society and its future will be shaped by the issues of sustainability, inclusivity and innovation.”

The report can be downloaded and read in full here.