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Sporaltec is a French association that unites manufacturers in the sports & leisure sector, research laboratories and technical centres so they might work together to promote innovation.
(Published on December 2007 – JEC Magazine #37)
ANGÉLIQUE BERARD, MANAGER, SPORALTEC
Sporaltec was created in response to the French Industry Ministry’s call for projects through the 2004 cluster initiative. It rapidly became the sole interface for French sports & leisure players in a sector that lacked structure to start with. This role helped the association to become the competitive cluster for the sports & leisure market in the Rhône-Alpes region, within a year of its creation. And now public funders can also address a single interface for any project that is developed within the framework of Sporaltec: all that manufacturers and laboratories have to do is take advantage of this fantastic network to develop the innovative projects that will guarantee their future competitiveness!
About forty partners throughout France
Today, Sporaltec includes about forty partners (manufacturers, university laboratories, engineering schools and competence centres) who are involved in research and development (R&D) and the design of sports & leisure equipment.
The Cluster covers all of France, although most of the infrastructure and collaborative projects are organized around sub-clusters located in the Rhône-Alpes region, including an “Urban Sports and Health Sports” sub-cluster in Saint Etienne and a “Mountain” sub-cluster in Francin, near Chambéry.
The areas of activity are design and manufacturing of sports articles, sports infrastructures, and components for sports & leisure equipment. There are industrial market applications in mechanics, plastics processing (partnership with Plastipolis), textiles (partnership with Techtera), and nanotechnology.
Sporaltec works on eight major issues to increase the competitiveness of French companies:
The convergence of these eight functions determines the overall choice of private, joint, and infrastructure projects likely to be developed within the Cluster.
Context and main players
The sports & leisure equipment industry in the Rhône-Alpes region accounts for 52% of the national potential. It generates 10,000 to 15,000 jobs and, it would appear, a turnover of more than four billion euros. Creating an industrially-oriented competitive cluster seemed particularly crucial, both to preserve the region’s jobs and long-established expertise and to keep up with the steady 5-10% growth of the global sports-equipment market.
There are 21 research laboratories in the Rhône-Alpes region whose areas of expertise focus more or less on R&D in sports & leisure equipment. Their research activity is recognized not only by manufacturers of sports & leisure equipment (81 contracts identified, including 53 in the Rhône-Alpes region), but also at the national level by the Ministry (CNRS, Inserm and EA seals of approval) and internationally through their numerous publications (250 in the field of movement, sports and health).
The “sports & leisure equipment industry” cluster is supported by all of the Rhône-Alpes region’s institutions that provide training in the science and technology of physical activity and sports, and also by the majority of the region’s engineering schools. The engineering schools in Compiègne and at the University of Aix-Marseille also joined the network very early on. As a result, the cluster benefits from the support of three doctorate programmes, three research master’s programmes, five professional master’s programmes, and three engineering schools in fields that are more or less related to sports & leisure.
For the 2004-2005 period, these training programmes lumped together were able to tap 56 PhD students, 59 research master students, 136 professional master students and 2280 engineering students.
Some of Sporaltec’s lines of research
Sports from the measuring and sensor viewpoint
Sport = Performance
or less related to sports & leisure.
For the 2004-2005 period, these training programmes lumped together were able to tap 56 PhD students, 59 research master students, 136 professional master students
Sports and material developments
Sports & leisure players now benefit from a single interface for their innovation and co-operation projects.