Sporting Chance Initiative Urges Scottish SMEs Not to Forgo Free Support Services
Sporting Chance Initiative (SCI), Scotland’s only business hub dedicated to sport innovation, is calling on SMEs to take advantage of its free support services and urging them not to miss an opportunity as it enters its final year of operation.
SCI is aimed specifically at Scottish businesses, with less than 250 employees, planning to develop new or modify existing products and services for sports markets. The organisation enhances innovation by awarding funds of up to £5,000 for collaborations between Scottish SMEs and Higher Education establishments, and through matching companies with a range of academic expertise, professional advice and an increasing network of successful businesses.
Introduced in 2010 and funded by the European Regional Development Fund, Scottish Funding Council, Stirling Council, University of Stirling and Stirling University Innovation Park Ltd, SCI has already assisted over 200 Scottish SMEs and awarded 24 STAR Grants, each worth up to £5,000, to a range of businesses spanning a host of different industries. The project ends in 2013 and the SCI is encouraging business owners to make contact in order to explore the free expertise available to assist them. Interested parties should visit http://www.sportingchanceinitiative.co.uk or call 01786 458 104.
One company to benefit from the services of SCI is Naturally Unlimited. Established by seasoned entrepreneurs Belinda Mitchell and Christine Manson, they set about developing a new range of products for the running market. Working with SCI they sought to refine their prototype and were awarded a STAR Grant to collaborate with the Engineering Department at the University of Glasgow.
Jon Anderson, Stirling University Innovation Park Board Member and CEO of the Entrepreneurial Exchange, said: “Sporting Chance Initiative has already had a positive impact on over 200 small businesses in Scotland and is committed to continuing this level of support into the final year. Key to producing additional business wealth and growth for Scotland is opening up the sports market to companies that may not have previously worked in this sector.
“SCI is looking to reach out to industries as varied as digital and creative media, technical textiles and materials as well as food and drink to make them aware of the increased opportunities in the sports market. I would urge any small business to maximise their growth potential by getting in touch and taking advantage of all the free support services SCI has to offer.”
The reason behind the work of SCI is clear:
o Sport makes a huge contribution to the Scottish economy. Event tourism, football and golf have resulted in a continuous rise in the economic importance of sport in the last ten years
o In 2008, sport related economic activity added over £1.7billion to the economy. In the same year, sport and associated industries were estimated to account for 51,500 full time equivalent jobs
o The sports industry is significantly greater, in terms of economic importance for Scotland than restaurants and the manufacture of computer electronics
o A recent report commissioned by Scottish Enterprise estimates that economic impact of golf tourism to be around £220 million (Scottish Golf Tourism Markey Analysis Report 2009)
o The funding partners behind SCI recognise that there is considerable untapped potential within the Scottish SME community and a significant role for them to play in this growing and profitable industry
For further information please contact Kate Blinkhorn at Spot PR:
Notes to editors:
Sporting Chance Initiative (SCI) is a business support organisation funded by the European Regional Development Fund, Scottish Funding Council, Stirling Council, University of Stirling and Stirling University Innovation Park Ltd.
· SCI exists to develop a collaborative Scottish sports business network engaging in knowledge transfer activities with Scottish universities (HEIs).
Examples of businesses to have benefited from the SCI support services include (case studies available):
o Lifesapps – a Scottish company developing an innovative suite of mobile products to protect, save and enhance lives. Its first product - iCEaid - is an intuitive, fully integrated, first aid system in a single application
o FAST Sports Ltd - an outdoor sport and fitness company which has created and developed the unique Mini Fit Pod and Fit Grid, which allow participants to undertake a range of core body weight exercises and fitness activities. Primarily used for promoting health and fitness in primary schools
o Naturally Unlimited - a business focused on developing a new range of products for the running market
o Tweetsport - a Scottish company with its own new Twitter-based instant sports news service which mixes headlines, news and videos with Tweets from top players and pundits