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Scotland is set to become home to a world-first Mountain Bike Innovation Center in a government funded project to build a thriving industry around mountain biking in the Scottish Borders. Developing Mountain Biking Scotland (DMBinS), an organization heavily involved in making the case for the Innovation Center says, “The proposal is that the Innovation Center will be accompanied by a Bike Park. Together these developments create an attractive package, which not only facilitates easy bike testing and development but attracts companies to live and work next to outstanding trails and support our rural communities to prosper in a sustainable way”.
The Tweed Valley is a highly attractive destination for mountain bikers around the world thanks to its vast quantity of accessible, volunteer-built and -maintained enduro trails. Its position in the minds of riders the world over was cemented after it hosted the Enduro World Series in 2021 and 2022. This year will see the Tweed Valley host the 2023 Cycling World Championships in August – more specifically, the XCO and Marathon Events. Rightly so, DMBinS, the Mountain Bike Center of Scotland and the Scottish Government are looking to realize the potential of the region to sustain an industry for mountain biking with the creation of a £19 Million Mountain Bike Innovation Centre.
Scottish Borders Mountain Bike Innovation Center Build Underway
Press Release from South of Scotland Enterprise and Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal
South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE) has confirmed that planning permission has been secured to renovate Caerlee Mill in Innerleithen to be the home of the new Mountain Bike Innovation Centre.
Together with the proposed Tweed Valley Bike Park and Trail Lab near Innerleithen, the Mountain Bike Innovation Center is a key development for the South of Scotland and will be funded as part of the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal.
The UK Government is investing £19 million into the project. This is part of its £265 million investment in the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal, along with the Scottish Government investment of £85 million in the Deal. The Innovation Center is predicted to contribute £141 million in Gross Value Added (GVA) and create over 400 jobs in the South of Scotland over ten years.
The overall project is being delivered by SOSE, alongside partners Edinburgh Napier University (ENU) and Scottish Borders Council (SBC).
SOSE completed the purchase of The Caerlee Mill site last year and have been working hard with partners to secure planning permission for the change of use and building renovation.
Hub South East Scotland have been appointed as delivery partner and Morrison Construction will undertake all building works. Preparation works to ensure the site is safe and secure will take place in the coming weeks, ahead of full works beginning this summer.
The Innovation Center will allow Scottish, UK and International companies to develop innovative products and services, or even train and test athletes within the mountain biking and cycling sector. It will also offer a place for businesses to showcase their products in the heart of the UK’s leading mountain bike destination.
In addition, the renovation of the listed Caerlee Mill for commercial use will help preserve an important building for the local community and for Scotland’s industrial heritage.
A target for the South of Scotland is to become mountain biking’s European capital, with Glentress Forest being one of the hosts for 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships this summer.
“We are delighted to have secured planning permission for this hugely exciting project for Innerleithen, the Tweed Valley and the South of Scotland.
SOSE Chair, Professor Russell Griggs
“This represents an important milestone and we can now start on-site construction works to deliver a world class innovation centre, bringing jobs, opportunity and growth to Innerleithen and the surrounding area.”
UK Government Minister for Scotland John Lamont
Lamont went on to say, “It is fantastic that the Mountain Bike Innovation Center has received planning permission. The Innerleithen center will bring jobs and investment to the region by creating a world class Innovation Center that will attract riders from across the country and beyond. The UK Government is supporting the project with £19 million investment as part of the £265 million Borderlands Growth Deal.”
“The development of this world-leading facility in the South of Scotland, the home of the bike, is absolutely fantastic for the area and our economy.
Councillor Scott Hamilton, SBC’s Executive Member for Community and Business Development
“This builds on this area’s strengths and our existing reputation as a leading cycling destination, with some of the best mountain bike trails in the world, and will create a significant number of jobs and long term investment.”
Professor Nick Antonopoulos, Deputy Vice Chancellor and Vice Principal of Research & Innovation at Edinburgh Napier University
Nick went on to say, “We are excited by the opportunities the new center will bring, and welcome the prospect of construction getting underway. This is a positive step towards a facility which will offer a strong platform for research across a wide range of academic fields – allowing us to build on the ground-breaking work already taking place at the Mountain Bike Center of Scotland. We look forward to continuing Edinburgh Napier University’s commitment to supporting bike innovation during what will be a significant year for cycling in Scotland.”
“We are delighted to be involved in this innovative project which sees the renovation of Caerlee Mill, establishing it as pioneering and sector leading within the mountain biking sector, just as it once was within the textile industry.
Eileen MacKin, Hub South East’s Project Director
Eileen went on to say, “Achieving planning permission is a key milestone for the development and we look forward to working with our partners and contractor, Morrison Construction, to make these exciting plans a reality.”
Any businesses interested in finding out more about the Mountain Bike Innovation Center should contact SOSE via www.southofscotlandenterprise.com/contact-us