Supporting Scotland’s sports entrepreneurs and small businesses

A project based in Stirling, Scotland helped SMEs involved in the sport sector tap into the knowledge and expertise of academics and researchers in order to bring new products or services to market. The Sporting Chance Initiative (SCI) provided a range of services including grants for collaborative research, market research intelligence, business advice and the hosting of events and workshops. By the end of its lifespan, the project had supported more than 500 SMEs and assisted in the development of 48 new products or processes.

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" We are delighted to be able to support student and graduate entrepreneurs across Scotland through the Sporting Chance Initiative. This reflects both our role as Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence and our strategic commitment to student enterprise. The programme continues to grow in strength and numbers and the original STAR grant awards was a key element of this success. We are delighted with the continued success of the programme helping to unlock Scotland’s entrepreneurial potential. "

Dr John Rogers, Director of Research and Innovation Services, The University of Stirling

Businesses, student and graduate entrepreneurs, universities, sports research institutes and other academic centres were brought together through SCI. Sports equipment manufacturers and service providers, as well as tourism and outdoor sports operators, benefited from the project’s activities as did companies working in sectors such as digital and creative, textiles and food & drink.

Funding boost

Companies could receive a “STAR” funding grant of £5 000 (EUR 5 650) for collaborative research projects involving a Scottish higher education institution. The collaboration was to help businesses with essential research into new products or processes – or to adapt existing ones to better meet the needs of the sports sector. More than 70 SMEs received funding support through STAR. The grant awards helped to create 142 jobs and safeguarded 69 existing posts. 

A post-project survey revealed that most STAR grant recipients felt that the commercial benefits would not have occurred without SCI support, or would have taken longer to materialise. Forecasts suggest that the SCI grants have helped to produce a total net increase in turnover of GBP 6 million (EUR 6.8 million) for recipients. This gives a return on investment of GBP 3.86 (EUR 4.36) for every GBP 1 (EUR 1.1) spent by SCI.

One-to-one support 

SCI delivered 33 business events and workshops, providing 321 SMEs with one-to-one support over half a day’s contact. A further 246 companies received advice or information helpful to their business development.

Support provided through the initiative was well regarded by businesses. 95 % of those surveyed felt that the help they received from SCI staff was very useful. Meanwhile, 73 % found the STAR grant funding very useful and 70 % found the events and workshops very useful. The advice received through business development managers was considered the most valuable aspect of the project.

SCI worked in the main with quite small businesses – 74 % had less than three employees and 87 % has less than ten. The project was delivered by Stirling University Innovation Park Ltd.

Total investment and EU funding 

Total investment for the project “Sporting Chance Initiative” is GBP 1 674 700 (EUR 1 892 771), with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing GBP 705 852 (EUR 797 764) through the “Lowlands and Uplands of Scotland” Operational Programme for the 2007-2013 programming period. The investment falls under the priority “Research and innovation”.

 

Draft date

11/01/2019