Sporting chance from Loughborough

British athletes could get a scientific boost to their gold medal efforts thanks to a new £15m sports technology institute launched at Loughborough University.

Supported by RDA East Midlands Development Agency (emda), the institute will boost enterprise in the sport and leisure sector and develop technology to assist the country’s elite athletes in their preparation for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Based on the university campus and at the Loughborough Science and Enterprise Park, the institute is home to Loughborough’s Sports Technology Research Group. Over the last 20 years the group has worked with sports goods giants such as adidas, Head, Umbro, New Balance, Nike, Reebok and Speedo on the design, simulation, testing and manufacture of sports equipment.

Recent projects include working with adidas to develop and validate the 2006 World Cup and EURO 2008 footballs, developing personalised football boots for premiership players using rapid manufacturing technologies, and working with Nike and Umbro on next generation strips for England’s rugby and football teams.

Olympic medal winner and Loughborough honorary graduate Steve Backley delivered the keynote speech at the launch event, which showcased the technologies being developed by the Sports Technology Research Group using the Institute’s specialist facilities.