Sustainable, Inclusive, Innovative: The Role of Engineering in Sport
Published: 25 October, 2023
The UK should increase support for the sports engineering sector to grow start-ups and capitalise on its leading role in the field of sports engineering research, according to a new report from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.
In the report “Sustainable, Inclusive, Innovative: The Role of Engineering in Sport”, the Institution calls for increased investment in specialist facilities for testing sporting technologies and trialling them in environments that closely match real-life conditions.
The facilities would be accessible to researchers, allowing them to test the equipment they have designed and help bring it to market.
Dr Thomas Allen, co-author of the report and a Reader in Mechanical Engineering at Manchester Metropolitan University, said: “The UK is a leader in sports engineering and with more support this could grow into an exciting network of home-grown start-ups to boost the economy. The challenge is to bring new and innovative sporting goods to market, which should ideally meet the needs of as many people as possible while having minimal impact on the environment.”
The sports industry has shown evidence of its commitment to sustainability, but more action is needed. The report recommends that sports technology providers should embrace independently audited ecolabels to help transition to more sustainable materials and manufacturing in the sector.
Sporting goods can be difficult to repurpose or recycle and large volumes can end up as waste in landfill. Recycling can be improved by simplifying products, designing them to be disassembled and have fewer materials and parts.
The report also calls for open-access standardised data to be the norm in sports engineering. To ensure sports technologies meet the needs of as many people as possible, data must be taken from wide and diverse groups of people – more open-access databases would help achieve this.
Carly Nettleford, a member of the Institution and co-author of the report, said: “Sport plays such an important role in society and its future will be shaped by the issues of sustainability, inclusivity and innovation.”
Download a copy of the report here: IMechE Sports Engineering Report.pdf