Innovation: Britain’s Post-Olympic Legacy or Letdown?

March 8th, 2013

After the 2012 London Olympics, there was a great deal of talk about the creation of a legacy to provide long term benefits post-Games. This legacy was multifaceted, aiming not only to increase the levels of participation in the number of those regularly participating in sport in Great Britain, but also to inspire regeneration by making use of the Olympic venues, improving transport infrastructure and encouraging social change.

The economic impact of The Games hoped to stimulate the economy, creating jobs and inward investment into the country. One thing that has not been examined is the impact of the 2012 London Olympics on innovation in Great Britain post-games. As a company who aim to position themselves at the top of the funnel for innovation in this country, Innovate felt that we should offer our perspective on whether The Games have lit the flame of entrepreneurial spirit in this country or if it has been little more than a damp squib.

When asking this question, we felt that there would be no-one better to approach than Innovate’s Sports and Fitness Sector Specialist Jay Short who is the expert when it comes to this side of the industry. Of his expectations post-Games, Jay had this to say:

“At Innovate, there is little doubt that a number of our invention submissions are inspired by circumstances in the wider environment. For example  during a cold snap, we will see a spike in products that help to deal with the cold weather such as car de-icers, snowshoes and devices to decrease the general impact of the weather conditions. Post-Games, our expectations were that we would see a similar increase in the popularity of submissions in the short-term with numbers returning to a steady flow after the initial buzz of The Games had died down. The reality has in fact been surprisingly different.”

What Innovate have in fact seen has been not only an increase in submissions in the short term, but also a continuing increased flow of idea submissions on a sporting theme. The nature of the ideas are not purely Olympic-related, but more related to general sports that may not have featured so prominently (or at all) in the Olympics, but that have had the entrepreneurial juices inspired by The Games.

“The nature of the ideas submitted post-Games have not so much been directly linked to improving the ways that events are managed, (i.e. evolution of the starting pistol, or running block) but more ideas that inspire a general improvement in fitness, or help with the management of the training and coaching of future generations of potential Olympic participants. This trend has continued into 2013 and offers a great example of a potential legacy created by The Olympics that maybe was not considered when the initial bid was won by Lord Coe.”

Innovation and entrepreneurship undoubtedly takes its inspiration from events. The 2012 London Games was one of the most inspirational events of recent times in this country and Innovate were pleased to see that in at least one way there is a legacy being created that may cross the boundaries between a number of the original legacy commitments providing both social and economic benefits whilst also helping to help the next generation of Olympic hopefuls.  By the time that the 2016 Games make their way to Rio, it may well be that you see a number of new innovations that were ‘Made In Britain’ off the back of a creative idea sparked by those giddy scenes from Super Saturday!