How The Napier Effect Created a Mountain Biking Revolution
Scotland has become one of the world’s top mountain biking destinations, with the sport bringing £150 million a year into the economy. Edinburgh Napier’s Professor Geraint Florida James has played key role in Scotland’s mountain biking revolution, securing funding to create the Mountain Bike Centre of Scotland at the Glentress Forrest in the Tweed Valley. The rural tweed valley has been transformed from a rural backwater into a mecca for biking enthusiasts, with Glentress attracting around 300,000 visitors every year.
The Foot and Mouth crisis of 2001 had a devastating impact on the economy of Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders.
The Seven Stanes Mountain Bike Initiative was set up in response to the crisis. It proved to be a huge success attracting visitors back to the regions. With the backdrop of this success, the Mountain Bike Centre of Scotland (MTBCOS) was opened in The Tweed Valley in 2014. This Centre was created in partnership with Edinburgh Napier, Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Cycling with a remit to grow the Scottish Cycling Industry. Harnessing the potential energy of the ever-growing MTB community, the MTBCOS has contributed greatly to Scotland’s reputation as a world-class mountain biking destination.
Peddling New Innovations
The Mountain Bike Centre of Scotland opened in Glentress in June 2014. It is the world’s first centre for open innovation in the mountain bike industry and helps businesses access consumers and tap into academic expertise. It also offers support with market research, product development, testing and product launches. The centre has worked with over 250 businesses, with 9 being launched through the MTBCOS. It has also delivered 87 industry-focused events, 161 collaborations and 43 student projects.
Mountain Biking’s New Mecca
A number of local businesses have sprung up in the Tweed Valley and Innerleithen to compliment the town’s world class trail offering, securing its status as a top mountain biking destination. There’s a choice of bike shops, mountain biking coaching businesses, MTB friendly cafes, a designer MTB clothing brand, a MTB uplift services which takes riders effortlessly to the top of the hill and you can even get a MTB hair cut!
Innerleithen is also the headquarters for the Enduro World Series (EWS), which is one of the world’s premier mountain biking competitions. It was founded by Edinburgh Napier alumni Chris Ball, now managing director, and it has recently been given investment by the Discovery Group to increase its media coverage and reach.
Scaling Ever Greater Heights
It looks like Scotland’s mountain biking revolution isn’t going off track any time soon. There are now proposals for a mountain bike innovation centre in Innerleithen, which will include a bike park and trail lab. If plans are approved it is hoped it will open in 2023, to coincide with the Cycling World Championships being held in Scotland.