Regeneration of high streets through sport?

How can sport help regenerate the high street and improve derelict urban spaces in cities?

This and other questions on model partnerships between local authorities and professional sports clubs, promoting health and fitness for all sections of society, were discussed at our dedicated sports forum, hosted at HereEast last week, where Loughborough University has a campus on the Olympic Park.

Tim Barnes, Head of Enterprise Development at Loughborough University London remarked that HereEast is very much a knowledge intensive quarter with neighbours University College London and the University of the Arts London, now in place in the Olympic Park

He described the growth of young sports tech companies which come to join Loughborough's SPIN accelerator programme from all over Europe to develop their businesses through the University's networks, knowledge and experience. These companies are pushing people to engage with sport and the urban environment - such as Imagine Active and BatFast. 'We have a centre for innovation around disability for instance, so we can join up sports innovation with that. In future the separate actors on the Olympic Park will start to integrate more.' The first cohort of 18 companies have graduated from the SPIN Accelerator, and three have already achieved seed funding from investors. Listen to Tim in the video below.

Dan Feist, Head of Cricket Operations at Essex Cricket (which first competed in the County Championship in 1895) described how the club has been working with the London Borough of Newham on new approaches to community out-reach. He remarked that the Club had used BatFast's cricket simulators to encourage participation. BatFast has also been putting simulators into vacant shop spaces on Ilford High Street, providing opportunities for both entertainment and sports practice for children and adults in an urban setting. Dan added that the simulator, with its automated bowling machine and animated video graphics, has been especially popular with female cricketers.

'At Essex Cricket we are doing a lot with West Ham, Leyton Orient and the netball teams, as we felt that partners from outside cricket could help each other in connecting communities with active sport. It's been important to put in new pitches in some areas, but we also put on cricket events outside Stratford station. This has opened up conversations between the Westfield shopping side and Stratford Centre on the ot