The Mountain Bike Centre of Scotland (MTBCOS) has only been open since the summer of 2014 but is already making big waves in the local economy. Run as a partnership between Edinburgh Napier University, the Scottish Funding Council, Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Cycling, the centre predicts a growth in turnover of collaborating businesses of £13.5 million over the next 3 years with the creation of 69 new jobs, it’s time to find out more about this Scottish success story.

The Mountain Bike Centre of Scotland is proving a huge success
The Mountain Bike Centre of Scotland is proving a huge success.

The MTBCOS is based right in the middle of Glentress Trail Centre, perhaps Scotland’s most popular trail centre attracting over 300,000 visitors per year, and has proved instrumental to Scottish mountain bike companies and academic research. Indeed ENDURO magazine has already taken advantage of the amazing facilities hosting discussions for our 2015 disk brake group test, and the MTBCOS also helped facilitate a Scottish expo at Eurobike.

Danny Cowe, Business Development Executive for the MTBCOS
Danny Cowe, Business Development Executive for the MTBCOS

We caught up with MTBCOS head honcho and Business Development Executive Danny Cowe to find out more about how the centre is benefitting the Scottish mountain bike scene.

Hey Danny, it looks like you guys have been really busy since you opened, how does the MTBCOS help new start-up Mountain Bike companies?

The MTBCOS can offer a range of support for entrepreneurs and individuals who have an idea for a MTB product or service. We tour the country running drop in innovation clinics – so far, these have been in Glentress, Aviemore, Fort William, Falkirk, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Perth and Laggan. Companies can then benefit from the community of riders that we have access to, through engaging them in focus group session to see what they want from a MTB product.

The centre as the perfect location for our 2015 disc brake testing
The centre was the perfect location for our 2015 disc brake testing

We have a very close relationship with the national economic development agency, Scottish Enterprise. By Working with SE we can offer companies trips to Eurobike, Intellectual Asset advice, business growth support and various grant funding. Furthermore, the centre’s main aim is to link business to academic expertise – Scottish universities have a wealth of knowledge and multi-million pounds worth of high tech facilities that can be utilised by companies. For example, Scottoiler with Edinburgh Napier University & University of West of Scotland and also SussMyBike with the Edinburgh University Fab Lab.

With great trails and pro riders on the doorstep, it's the perfect spot.
With great trails and pro riders on the doorstep, it’s the perfect spot.

What has been your highlight from the last year?

It’s genuinely, hard to pick just one. Of course Eurobike 2015 was fantastic – we built on the success of the previous year and took 14 Scottish companies to Germany and the feedback we gained was fantastic.

Our latest survey results were a big plus as well. You’re never completely sure about the size of the industry or how big an impact you are making. The data from our companies show that we are forecast a growth over the next 3 years of £13.5 increase in turnover, with 69 new jobs created and an increase in international sales of £7.4m. When you start to see figures like that being banded around, as well as anecdotal evidence from the companies, you start to feel that you are on the right track and what you are doing is making a genuine difference to people’s livelihoods.

Glentress has trails for all abilities.
Glentress has trails for all abilities.

Is it a benefit being based in Glentress?

It’s a huge benefit. We could be located in a business park on the outskirts of a town in Edinburgh or Glasgow and offer support to companies from there. Instead, by being at the biggest purpose built MTB centre in the UK with over 300,000 users per year, we offer a far more attractive setting to companies. It’s not just the excuse to bring your bike and go off for a pedal (which helps greatly), but also the fact that we can do testing, focus groups, product launches and media days on site – that side of things wouldn’t happen if we were based in an urban office block.

Among the product developments linked to the centre is Scottoiler’s automatic chain lubrication system Cycle S1, which attaches to a bike and takes over the entire chain maintenance process, delivering the perfect quantity of fresh lubricant on to the chain exactly when required. Researchers who put the system through its paces found cyclists averaged a five per cent increase in power output.

Nick Muddle, Scottoiler Sales Director
Nick Muddle, Scottoiler Sales Director

The MTBCoS has been invaluable in getting our business to this point and after the event today I’m sure it will continue to provide us with even more great opportunities. With their connections to businesses, the industry, academia, elite riders, the government, and the consumers, the centre is a fantastic resource for us to be able to have access to on so many levels. Our first product, Ultimate Bike Solution, was developed following the feedback received from working with the centre and we’re now in the process of commercialising our next product, the S1 Cycle system, after generating some exciting performance data from tests carried out at Edinburgh Napier University with elite riders. Nick Muddle, Sales Director

Another development carried out in conjunction with the Mountain Bike Centre was SussMyBike’s monitoring device which gathers the data you need to accurately adjust your suspension for improved performance via a smartphone app.

Alan Mason, director of Sussmybike
Alan Mason, director of SussMyBike

“We have been working with the centre for over a year now and they have been a mainstay on my journey. The resources, help and advice have been invaluable in guiding me to the point I am at today. Having access to professional riders for feedback and testing, sports scientists who know and understand mountain biking and a business development person – Danny Cowe have made MTBCoS almost a one stop shop for me. It’s been a great experience.” Alan Mason, director

Mountain biking tourism is worth over £49 million a year to Scotland, (with indirect spending amounting to £130 million) so ENDURO Magazine are very excited to see the MTBCOS proving so invaluable to the riding community. You can follow the activities of the MTBCOS on their facebook page.

Words and photos: Trev Worsey