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Brunel Sports Scientist wins research award

UK Sport's Research and Innovation Team have today announced the first winner of their Ideas 4 Innovation: New Researchers Award. The successful applicant is Chris West, an MSc Sport Sciences graduate from Brunel University.

The aim of UK Sport's Ideas 4 Innovation programme is to develop an award scheme to acknowledge and harness outstanding research and innovation concepts for elite sport, generated by the UK's research community, 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 sports enthusiast with creative ideas that may have the potential to enhance the performance of British Olympic or Paralympic athletes.

In its pilot year, the New Researchers Award was endorsed by 19 UK universities, eight of whom submitted 21 projects in total to UK Sport, approved by each university's New Researchers Coordinator. Final year undergraduate or masters students were encouraged to enter their projects if they had the potential for enhancing elite sports performance. Students from the disciplines of engineering, science, medicine or the arts were encouraged to apply. In future years, the programme will be used to encourage students that are deciding on topics for their projects to consider applying their core knowledge to British Olympic and Paralympic sport.

Eight finalists were chosen to present their projects to an expert panel at UK Sport's Head Office in London last month. The panel, who grilled the hopeful applicants on their ideas, were UK Sport's Head of Research and Innovation, Dr Scott Drawer, and Head of Sports Science and Medicine, Glenn Hunter, Sports Scientist and former athlete, Professor Greg Whyte, Frazer Nash Consultancy Senior Engineer, Alasdair Wylie and English Institute of Sport National Lead for Physiology, Dr Ken van Someren.

Dr Scott Drawer explains why Chris West's project, on the development of a novel device for performance enhancement in spinal cord injured athletes, was chosen for the New Researchers Award, worth £25,000 in research funding:

“The standard of applications for the New Researchers Award was very high, which is fantastic for the pilot year of the Ideas 4 Innovation programme. Chris' project excelled in concept, scientific rigour and rationale and could have a great impact on the performance of our Paralympians in the future.

“I was pleased to see such enthusiasm from the students in contributing to British athletes' success on the world stage. This bodes well for the Garage Innovators Award we have just launched, which is open to any member of the British public.“

On being the first winner of the New Researchers Award, Chris, a recent graduate from the Centre for Sports Medicine and Human Performance at Brunel University, said:

“I had always wanted to embark on a career in research for elite sport after I finished my masters, but I wasn't quite sure where the funding was coming from.

“Now I have the chance not only to work in elite sport for a year with the potential for extension, but to drive the development of a project I am very passionate about with access to UK Sport's extensive network of partners. I will be able to tap into world class facilities and expertise to see whether the concept has the potential to boost our Paralympic athletes' chances of winning gold medals.“

Chris' project supervisor and Senior Lecturer at Brunel University, Dr Lee Romer, said:

“I would recommend any students out there with an interest in elite sport, who may be about to embark on their own research projects, to consider the 2009 New Researchers Award. It is an amazing opportunity, as UK Sport can make such great resources available to you through their network of contacts.“

Applications for the 2009 New Researchers Award will open in March next year. For more information on the New Researchers Award for students or the Garage Innovators Award, please contact Alison.Neall@uksport.gov.uk


Note to Editors
UK Sport's Ideas 4 Innovation programme: www.uksport.gov.uk/ideas4innovation

About UK Sport
(www.uksport.gov.uk)
UK Sport is the Government agency responsible for investing in and supporting our Olympic and Paralympic sports and athletes. It currently invests around £100 million a year in the World Class Performance Programme, supporting over 1,400 athletes across 24 Olympic and 20 Paralympic sports. It underpins this investment through providing dedicated services to sports and their staff and athletes, such as Elite Coach, Sports Medicine and Sports Science, Talent ID, Performance Lifestyle and Research and Innovation. UK Sport also operates as the National Anti-Doping Organisation, and is the lead agency for international sporting issues.

UK Sport's Research and Innovation programme is led by Dr Scott Drawer and strategically invests £1.5millon per year in collaborative projects to enhance the performance of British Olympic and Paralympic athletes. In 2008, the Research and Innovation team announced Innovation Partnerships with the following organisations in recognition of their ability to provide innovative performance solutions for elite sport: BAE Systems (Podium Innovation Partner), epm: technology, Frazer-Nash Consultancy, Loughborough University Sports Technology Institute, University of Portsmouth, Sheffield Hallam University, TotalSim, Wolfson Unit.

Contact details
• For more information on the Ideas 4 Innovation programme, please contact Jessica Whitehorn in the UK Sport Press Office - 0207 211 5174 / 07747 562 532 / jessica.whitehorn@uksport.gov.uk
• For more information