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Destinations and Innovation - What have we been doing in 2023?

Our work focuses on building on our key destination's strengths, pushing for development and supporting areas and businesses to improve the experience for riders while promoting Scotland as the best place to visit for your mountain bike holiday. We have covered a lot of ground in 2023 and here are the highlights.

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2023 UCI Cycling World Championships

This year saw the biggest cycling event ever come to Scotland with the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships taking over all our lives from the 3rd to the 13th of August.

We worked hard in the run up, during and post event with many stakeholders and partners in many different ways including, ensuring that riders and the local community were aware of trail closures and impacts at Glentress. Securing funding for uplift services to facilitate Easter Kids Camps as a result of trail closures. Contributing to Local Organising Committees and we were instrumental in the instigation of the Fringe Events Programmes for the Tweed Valley and Fort William. Both programmes were taken forward and driven locally to great success and added greatly to the visitor experience.

The Mountain Bike Cross-country and Mountain Bike Cross-country Marathon events held at Glentress and in the Tweed Valley attracted an estimated 23,393 spectators, including more than 3,000 visitors staying in paid accommodation who came specifically for the events. An impact analysis was carried out which concluded that the direct economic impact on the Scottish Borders was an estimated £6,039,308.

We have been working hard over the last couple of years to establish a long-term strategy for international mountain bike events in Scotland. We are delighted that the Downhill World Cup will return to Fort William in May 2024 and we are working behind the scenes for more international events for years to come.

Uci 2023 worlds numbers

Festivals providing a mixture of social, sport, and community events have been an important part of the mountain bike scene in Scotland for decades. They play an important role delivering across all the themes of the Scottish Mountain Bike Strategy alongside their valuable contributions to local economies, support the local scene, and provide destinations with valuable exposure.

In Aberdeenshire, we have supported events through grant schemes, industry insight and connections, including LimitLass, Scottish MTB Event of the Year. NEAT Aberdeenshire Event Support Grants are available up to £1500 to enhance and expand events in the region in 2022. These grants are designed to support organisers with costs, helping them to engage with local communities and deliver high quality experiences in the region.

In the Scottish Borders, our recruitment of Emily Stratton as our regional MTB co-ordinator will enable us to support more events, festivals and business support in 2024. Indeed, we are working on two very special events that we will be bringing to you early next year.

We hope to able to expand our support into other areas of Scotland if we can secure regional based funding in 2024.

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Limitlass - Scottish MTB Event of the Year 2023. Credit - Finlay Anderson

This year we ran workshops and webinars to inspire, encourage, and support existing mountain bike businesses to keep innovating, collaborating, and improving their level of service to riders in advance of the Cycling World Championships

These webinars were also designed to help inspire and support those new to the mountain bike market to understand the basics and begin to improve their level of service to riders.

In Aberdeenshire, we delivered training programmes, workshops and engagement sessions for businesses, stakeholders and bodies connected with the development of MTB Tourism. The annual NEAT Industry event delivered providing project updates, connections, insight and inspiration, Industry workshops and delivered 1:1 sessions throughout the year on marketing, business management, industry insights.

In total, we have worked with over 100 businesses in 2023. With workshops and additional support including social media video content training, understanding the mountain bike market, engaging businesses in bike plan trail development, and provided businesses with additional equipment to further grow and improve their offer.

Our business support is largely through our regional co-ordinators and are funded exclusively through regional economic development funding.

We would like to thank Opportunity North East, Scottish Enterprise, and Aberdeenshire Council for supporting our sector, and wider adventure, through North East Adventure Tourism for funding, and supporting, our work in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.

In the Highlands, our business development work is supported by Highlands & Islands Enterprise and DMOs including Lochaber Chamber of Commerce/Outdoor Capital UK, Cairngorms Business Partnership, Skye Connect, Venture North, Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust, and Wester Ross Biosphere.

Our workshops and business support in the Scottish Borders are funded by UK Government, through the Shared Prosperity Fund, and Scottish Borders Council.

Using evaluations of the impact of these projects we hope to engage more destinations across Scotland in 2024. We continue to promote the unique mountain bike tourism resources found within The resource was promoted throughout the Cycling World Championships in various promotional material aimed at tourism businesses looking for support to better cater for visitors to the event

We have been steadily working to improve the customer journey across the Scottish tourism industry particularly with Bike Friendly Accommodation providers.

There have been improvements in key destinations, particularly where the DMBinS ‘Secure Bike Storage Scheme’ has been delivered.

This year 11 grants have been awarded to businesses in the Highlands, taking the total number of grants administered in the Highlands to 51. A £24.5k spend, supporting £64.5k investment in facilities over the last 3 years.

As our scheme comes to an end we would like to provide a massive thank you to Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) for their support in this project. Their funding also supports our regional co-ordinator, Ruari Watt, who has made a big difference in developing trail proejcts across the Highlands this year - see 'Trails - What's been happening in 2023?'. Thanks HIE!

We hope to be able to deliver further grants in 2024, however this is dependent on funding unlocked.

We have recently been supporting businesses in the Highlands and the Scottish Borders as they look to unlock funding from two funding pots launched to help businesses better cater for the growing cycling market.

Destination pages Secure Bike Storage 29 33 Credit DM Bin S

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MTB Innovation Centre - Innerleithen

We have continued to contribute to the boards for both mountain bike projects which are proposed through the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal: the MTB Project (Bike Park and Innovation Centre, Innerleithen) including scoring the bid(s) for the bike park, and the Refresh of 7stanes Project.

Delighted that in 2023, the Innovation Centre in Innerleithen has secured planning permission and has a projected opening date of 2025. More details to follow in 2024!

Power of the Bike Innovation Summit

We were delighted to be a key partner in helpnig Edinburgh Napier University and South of Scotland Enterprise run the 'Power of the Bike Innovation Summit' which was held at Cardona Hotel, Peebles during th UCI Cycling World Championships. The event proved to be a success, with speakers and delegates from global brands coming together to discuss collective innovation and a showcase of innovative Scottish brands.

The event also had a series of announcements including the new Bike Innovation Scotland brand revealed by Minister for Small Business, Innovation and Trade, Richard Lochhead.

Mr Lochhead also helped launch the Strategy for Scottish Mountain Biking 2023 to 2025.

The MTB Strategy has a strong vision for Scotland to be leading European mountain biking and to continue to sustainably grow the economic contribution of mountain biking, increase participation, and help develop more future mountain bike stars to compete on the world stage.

The three-year MTB strategy has been developed to ensure that the success story of Scottish mountain biking continues with the growth seen through Covid-19 is sustained and built upon. The development of the new MTB strategy has been led by Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland on behalf of all those with a stake in Scottish mountain biking, whether they are the mountain bike community, Scottish Government and national agencies, the tourism industry, or product designers and manufacturers.

What was the Power of the Bike Innovation Summit and Bike Innovation Scotland?

The Power of the Bike Innovation Summit was attended by some of the biggest bike brands in the world and many Scottish businesses.

Bike Innovation Scotland, will start offering services from early 2024 and the new Mountain Bike Innovation Centre with a Bike Park and Trail Lab being developed just up the road from Glentress at Innerleithen will open in 2025.

Bike Innovation Scotland is led by Edinburgh Napier University and builds on their years of experience of knowledge transfer and research in the sector and the support from Scottish Government to date.

It is developed in partnership with South of Scotland Enterprise as the lead on the new innovation centre, and, as a national project, is working with the other enterprise agencies in Scotland.

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Innovation Workshop - Fort William

In March this year, we were delighted to deliver an innovation workshop working with Edinburgh Napier University/Mountain Bike Centre of Scotland, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, and the University of the Highlands Advanced Forming Research Centre.

Entrepreneurs were shown round the facilities and the equipment available to help inspire innovation of new products in the Highlands.

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