Cycling to Success – Co-Innovate Workshop 2

‘We have been having plenty of fun making our bikes that people have been enjoying all over the world. This has enabled us to grow over 20% a year for the last nine years and export around 80% of our Brompton’s to 44 countries.’

Will Butler Adams, Managing Director, Brompton

Will, Brompton’s charismatic young MD certainly struck a chord with the specially invited audience with his description of company DNA which has propelled Brompton to a global brand sold in 42 countries and the largest cycle manufacturer in the UK. Clearly a great ambassador for innovation, Will cautioned against the idea of radical innovation. He arrived atthe Old Vinyl Factory – which incidentally provides an excellent lunch and inspiring venue – on a 20 year old version of the Brompton bike, and used the example of the development of a cam on a brake lever – which had been prototyped 17 times during its latest re-design – to demonstrate that steady evolution is often the most successful route to follow for product development.

Following Will’s keynote address, figures representing a spectrum of interests in the UK cycle industry heard experts from Brunel University describe how their world leading research may provide opportunities for collaborative innovation. For example Dr Richard Bonser showed how nature is substantially more efficient in energy use than human designed systems, but that we can draw directly from nature for inspiration in the biomimetics field of research. Dr Paolo Coppo urged us to raise our sights higher than ‘not new’ materials such as titanium and carbon fibre, also making a connection to nature with examples of the weight to strength ratio of bamboo and its potential in bike frames. Dr Tom Korff, a sports scientist, who has worked with Team GB, described his research using force measurement pedals which counter intuitively demonstrated that the actual power output of ‘normal’ pedalling is more efficient than emphasising ‘pulling’ on the pedals. Dr Andrew Russell from Brunel’s Institute for the environment highlighted opportunities for linking weather data with encouraging cycling. A recreational cyclist himself, he informed us: ‘there is no stopping me now that I’ve changed my brake blocks’.

The intense day included brainstorming ideas for cycling related ideas which could benefit from the types of collaborative work demonstrated. These ideas and the connections made during the day provide an exciting basis for potential innovations in the cycle industry.

Companies interested in the work discussed and the potential for collaborations can discover more through the links below and by contacting the Co-Innovate team