UWE boosts business for sports wheelchair charity Motivation

Issue date: 07 August 2012

UWE Bristol business studies graduate Jason Williams is helping international charity Motivation increase its income-generating activities, so it can support more disabled people across the world.

Jason is working on a three-year Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) between UWE and Motivation to develop the Bristol-based charity's trading arm into a sustainable social enterprise.

Motivation designs high-quality, low-cost wheelchairs to enhance mobility and quality of life for disabled people across the world. It also produces specialist chairs for sports such as tennis and basketball, and is working on a low-cost racing wheelchair that will be launched at the Paralympics.

Two years into the three-year partnership, Jason has embedded a new product development process, worked with colleagues to conduct product trials overseas and attended supply chain visits overseas in order to initiate improvements.

He said, “This KTP has given me the opportunity to put into practice everything I learnt from studying business at UWE and also to develop my knowledge and management skills. Working for a social enterprise makes my job very rewarding.

“Currently 16% of people with disability play sport once a week compared with 34% of the general population. Disability sports equipment doesn't come cheap and young disabled people cite lack of money as the main barrier to getting active. Motivation has been tackling this problem with its innovative, low-cost sports wheelchairs for basketball and tennis.

“These sports chairs have proved such a hit that the International Paralympic Committee asked Motivation to design a low-cost racing wheelchair – and we're launching it at the Paralympics this summer.”

The link between UWE and Motivation to develop a clear business development strategy is supervised by Celia Rhodes of UWE's Bristol Business School. The project is part-funded under the government-sponsored KTP scheme, which provides access to University skills and expertise to solve business or social enterprise problems and develop new opportunities.

Richard Frost, co-founder of Motivation comments, “The KTP has been great for Motivation. We are really feeling the benefit and extra knowledge Jason brings to our team. Our business has grown partly as a direct result and the return on our investment has been excellent.”

Motivation also supports the South West Scorpions, a wheelchair basketball club in Bristol for children and young people with and without disabilities.

Editor's notes

· For more info on Motivation see http://www.motivation.org.uk/

· This Partnership received financial support from the Knowledge Transfer Partnerships programme (KTP). KTP aims to help businesses to improve their competitiveness and productivity through the better use of knowledge, technology and skills that reside within the UK Knowledge Base. KTP is funded by the Technology Strategy Board along with the other government funding organisations.

· For more information on KTPs at UWE see http://www1.uwe.ac.uk/business/businessgrowthservices/knowledgetransferpartnership.aspx

· RELAYS (Regional Educational Legacy in Arts and Youth Sport) is an innovative and ambitious project delivered through universities and cultural organisations in the south west of England. It aims to inspire young people and their communities to participate in, create and promote cultural and sporting activities; engaging the region with the London 2012 Games and creating a lasting legacy beyond 2012. For more information see http://www.universitiessouthwest.ac.uk/relays.aspx

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