Geraint Florida-James, MTBCOS
Tell us a bit about yourself
“I am a son, husband, father, uncle, great uncle, trusted friend, Professor, Coach – a Limavady man but who is now at home in the Scottish Borders. If not doing cool stuff with my family, I’ll be out on my mountain bike or else gardening.”
Tell us a bit about the Mountain Bike Centre for Scotland? What is it all about?
“The Mountain Bike Centre for Scotland (MTBCOS) was set up in June 2014, following initial investment from the Scottish Funding Council with key partners Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Cycling. It has a remit to grow knowledge transfer activities between business and academia in Scotland. Recently the Scottish Government has been investing in the project and with our key partners we have just launched the ambitious Strategy for Scottish Mountain Biking 2019-2025, with a fantastic Ministerial Forward from Fiona Hyslop MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs. The mountain bike partners are working closely with the Borderlands Regional City Deal in attempt to secure funding to build a Mountain Bike Innovation Hub and Pike Park in the Scottish Borders. If successful this will give the project the infrastructure to take it to an international audience and fully exploit the economic benefits in this remote rural area.”
What was your inspiration for taking part in this project?
“I thought we had a good story to tell. The team have been working tirelessly and with great enthusiasm on this project and I was keen that all this hard work should be brought to the wider Edinburgh Napier and Innovation communities. “
Practically speaking, how did you go about setting up the project? What support have you received, and from where?
“The project started through partnership working with Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Cycling when it was realised that there was an opportunity to grow the cycling market in Scotland alongside the growth in participation in mountain biking. We have received funding support from Scottish Funding Council, Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Development International and the Scottish Government whilst securing a number of Innovation Voucher awards and follow on awards to work with specific companies.”
What should we expect to see from the Mountain Bike Centre in future?
“In the short term we are hopeful in securing a substantial investment from the Borderlands Regional City Deal and with that we have ambitious plans to grow the business of the Mountain Bike Centre through increased opportunities to engage with Scottish SMEs and start-ups and International mountain bike brands.”
How did you feel about winning the Enterprising Educators Category? And what are you planning on using the prize money for?
“I was very pleased and honoured to be able to accept the award on behalf of the Mountain Bike Centre of Scotland Team. We are a small team, punching above its weight and it was just great for the team to get this recognition. Budgets, as we all know are always tight, so this prize money will come in extremely useful to allow the team to attend some key events which would have otherwise been out of reach this year – thank you BRT!”
If given the chance, what would you tell your younger self?
“Now there’s a question!
Take every opportunity going to expand your horizons and connect with new people. If I have learnt one thing in my career it is that relationship building is the key to success. You never know how that person you are connecting with could help or hinder you in your future career aspirations.
Finally – travel, travel, travel.”