There has been a significant step forward for Mountain Bike Innovation Centre with historic mill purchase. Terms have been agreed by South of Scotland Enterprise on behalf of the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal to purchase Caerlee Mill in Innerleithen to create a home for the new Mountain Bike Innovation Centre.
Together with the proposed Tweed Valley Bike Park and Trail Lab near Innerleithen, the Mountain Bike Innovation Centre 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 £19million into the project. This is part of its £265m investment in the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal, along with the Scottish Government investment of £85m in the Deal. The Innovation Centre is predicted to contribute £141m in Gross Value Added (GVA) and create over 400 jobs in the South of Scotland over ten years.
The UK Government is also providing support to Scottish Cycling through its Community Renewal Fund.
This is helping to employ two new staff to deliver practical trail maintenance session and skills training courses for young people in cycling and trail building, as well as supporting businesses to capitalise on opportunities such as cycle-friendly accommodation grants and tourism packages.
Both the Mountain Bike Innovation Centre and Tweed Valley Bike Park and Trail Lab will also operate as Net Zero facilities.
The overall project is being delivered by South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE), with support from partners Edinburgh Napier University (ENU) and Scottish Borders Council (SBC).
The Caerlee Mill site, which is being purchased from Whiteburn Projects, was previously identified as the preferred location for the Innovation Centre. Plans will now be moved forward to renovate the building, with a planning application expected to be submitted in spring 2022.
The project’s final business case for full funding will be presented to the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal Partnership Board for approval this year.
The Innovation Centre 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 UKs 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.
Mountain biking continues to grow in the Tweed Valley with recent successful events including the Enduro World Series - supported by SOSE, SBC and other partners - helping to grow the region’s international reputation further.
Councillor Mark Rowley, Leader of Scottish Borders Council and Borderlands Partnership Board member, said: “The purchase of Caerlee Mill for the Mountain Bike Innovation Centre is an important milestone. It means we can now move ahead with our exciting plans to build on the already well-established reputation of the Tweed Valley as one of the world’s top mountain biking destinations.
"This project also supports one of our core strategic themes for the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal, of supporting business, innovation and skills across the region, which will in turn stimulate business growth and create a more diverse regional economy."
SOSE Chair, Professor Russel Griggs OBE, said: “We are delighted to have made this important step forward for this hugely exciting project for Innerleithen, the Tweed Valley and the South of Scotland.
“While there is hard work ahead, we are looking forward to working with our partners to establish the Mountain Bike Innovation Centre and Tweed Valley Bike Park and Trail Lab as a sustainable base for the industry to grow and help create new, skilled jobs in the South of Scotland.”
The second element of the project will see Tweed Valley Bike Park and Trail Lab created in what is thought to be a global first in terms of combining tourism and innovation. The adventure bike park will attract and sustainably manage visitors to the Scottish Borders.
Professor Nick Antonopoulos, Vice Principal for Research and Innovation at Edinburgh Napier University, said: “This is a significant development in our journey towards establishing the world’s first Mountain Bike Innovation Centre. The new facilities will build on the fantastic research Edinburgh Napier has been carrying out through the Mountain Bike Centre of Scotland since 2012.
“There will be a step change in research opportunities across a range of academic disciplines, including exercise science, public health, engineering, inclusion, product design, artificial intelligence, big data and tourism, leading to the delivery of positive societal impact in terms of wellbeing and sustainability.”
UK Government Minister for Scotland, Iain Stewart, said: "This is a significant milestone for creating the world's first Mountain Bike Innovation Centre which will strengthen the Borderlands' reputation as a superb location for the sport.
"Many people visit the region every year for its stunning scenery, rich history, and wealth of outdoor activities. The UK Government are investing £265m through the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal to build on these strengths, improve connectivity and create jobs and growth."
The Mountain Bike Innovation Centre continues to attract strong interest from companies and entrepreneurs both local and further afield with a goal of building a sustainable centre that creates new, skilled jobs for the South of Scotland.
Any businesses interested in getting involved should contact SOSE via