UK Sport’s Research and Innovation team have today announced the first winner of their Ideas 4 Innovation: Garage Innovators Award. The successful applicant is Alasdair Wylie, a Senior Consultant with Frazer-Nash Consultancy in Dorking.
The aim of UK Sport's Ideas 4 Innovation programme is to develop an award scheme to acknowledge and harness outstanding innovation concepts for elite sport, generated by the UK's innovation and research communities, to support the mission to London 2012 and beyond. There are two competitions: the New Researchers Award - aimed at final year and first year post graduate students - and the Garage Innovators Award - open to any member of the public with creative ideas that may have the potential to enhance the performance of British Olympic or Paralympic athletes.
In its pilot year, the Garage Innovators Award received 57 applications, from individuals based throughout the UK, and with diverse backgrounds, from engineering to sports science and the arts. The award is primarily aimed at those individuals with a passion to see the Great Britain team succeed, as the prize will enable the inventor to realise their idea, whilst enabling UK Sport to utilise any outcomes prior to 2012 during a period of exclusivity.
Six finalists were chosen to present their ideas to an expert panel at UK Sport’s Head Office in London last week. The panel, who grilled the hopeful applicants on their ideas, were UK Sport’s Head of Research and Innovation, Dr Scott Drawer, Olympic gold medallist, Jason Queally, Professor Steve Haake from Sheffield University’s Centre for Sport and Engineering Science, Professor of Sports Science and former athlete, Greg Whyte and engineering consultant to British Cycling, Dimitris Katsanis.
Dr Drawer explains why Alasdair’s idea for a research project, on the development of a novel device for performance enhancement in canoeing, was chosen for the Garage Innovators Award, worth £25,000 in research funding:
“The standard of applications for the Garage Innovators Award was really exciting for this pilot year. Alasdair’s project excelled in its simplicity, application and ability to directly impact on some of the UK’s medal winning sports.
"His idea came from something he observed during the Beijing Games. This really highlights how something can be taken for granted when you are immersed in the environment day in and day out. We are extremely confident that it could change the way people view the sport in the future."
On being the first winner of the New Researchers Award, Alasdair, who works for one of UK Sport’s Innovation Partner companies, said:
"Frazer-Nash always encourage us to be innovative in our approach to problem solving and, following the launch of UK Sport’s Garage Innovators competition, the company challenged us to come up with fresh ideas of how we could help British athletes. Having thought about the novel device for canoeing for some time now, I am really happy that we now have the opportunity to make it a reality and have a positive impact on some of the UK’s medal winning sports.
"Winning this award gives us the funding for the project and also the access to those within the sport itself that will be key to making it a success. I’d recommend anyone with an idea that can improve the performance of British athletes to put it forward to UK Sport and enter the awards next year."
Applications for the 2009 Garage Innovators and New Researchers Awards will open in March this year. For more information on the New Researchers Award for students or the Garage Innovators Award, please contact Alison.Neall@uksport.gov.uk