Innovative sporting businesses converge on Bristol conference

Amie Vaughan
Initiative Manager - West of England Initiative
12th December 2017

What makes the business of sport such a unique and compelling area of interest is the huge amounts of innovation that is going on from a grass roots level right to the very top.

Sport, health and fitness contribute billions to the UK economy each and every year, and with sporting organisations across the UK are doing some amazing things to compete, prosper and put back into the game, a new generation of sports industry professionals is fast emerging.

At the European City of Sport conference 2017, which was held to celebrate Bristol’s year as European City of Sport, delegates gained some fascinating insights from inspiring speakers working at the vanguard of this very industry.

Chrissie Wellington of Parkrun, explained how her community-led fitness project has snowballed into a global phenomenon through harnessing the power of the internet.

Mike Diaper, Executive Director of Community Sport at Sport England, shared his thoughts on the logic of investing in sport and physical activity and its benefits to society.

Adrian Christy, CEO of Badminton England talked about their approach to growing membership through digitisation, before Barry Horne, CEO of English Federation of Disability Sport and Sally Hogg, Acting Director of Public Health Bristol, explained how they were promoting their causes in a challenging financial landscape.

Later on, there were sessions covering the wider economic benefits of sport to local economies, approaches to raising finance for sports facilities, sport and employee morale in the workplace, attracting major sporting events as well as using open data to help people get active.

For all the exciting and innovative sports businesses on show at the conference, head coach at Bristol Rugby, Pat Lam, must scoop the prize for the most innovative presentation, kicking off the afternoon sessions with an exercise routine that got delegates’ pulses racing.

The day was capped off with a keynote from Double Olympic rowing champion James Cracknell OBE, who talked about life after elite level sport. Runjoy is his company. Set up two years ago, Runjoy organises mass running events – one of a number of ventures James has been involved with since retirement.

The Bristol business community has played an active role in shaping the health and well-being of the city as a vocal champion of participation in sport, and the conference provided a fantastic forum to bring local business and sporting businesses together.

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    Provides an effective link between private and public sectors to ensure the interests of commerce are considered in key decision making.