Leading sports fitness clothing brand Gymshark has partnered with Innovation Birmingham to launch a pioneering business support centre, driving growth and opportunity for promising digital technology companies innovating in the sports sector within the West Midlands.
Set to open its doors to the region’s brightest talents this August, the new sports-tech incubator will be hosted at Innovation Birmingham’s multi-million-pound iCentrum building, the flagship facility at the UK’s largest campus dedicated to digital technology businesses with over 160 firms on-site.
Businesses accepted onto the incubator will receive regular support and guidance from members of the Gymshark team and benefit from the global connections, expertise and infrastructure of a brand that’s currently shipping to over 180 countries across the world, with a turnover of £140m predicted for 2019.
Gymshark will nurture sports technology businesses and work with Innovation Birmingham’s business mentors, project managers, and development programme, which have helped incubate over 280 start-ups and raise over £18 million in start-up funding. Paul Richardson, Chief Strategic Officer at Gymshark said:
“Launching this initiative with Innovation Birmingham allows us to give something back to the small businesses in the city we call home. We want to support the region that has helped Gymshark grow into a global brand in the space of six years, and are encouraging applications from all SMEs with the potential to disrupt markets through innovative digital sports technology.
“Our new innovation centre will help the region’s brightest entrepreneurs combine sports and digital technology ideas to access key markets. We’re excited to help drive growth for these businesses and the wider economy, whilst also developing our own product portfolio to ensure we stay on the cutting edge of our own business.”
Gymshark was the fastest growing company in the UK in 2016 and joins Innovation Birmingham as a commercial partner on its Serendip Smart City Incubator. It will sit alongside other existing partners such as; Barclays Eagle Labs, Tata Motors, the West Midlands Combined Authority and the West Midlands Academic Health Science Network. Cliff Dennett, Head of Business Development at Innovation Birmingham said:
“Gymshark is already an incredible success story; a local business on a global stage. We’re looking forward to sharing our knowledge and experiences in digital technology to help expand the business and fast-track the development of pioneering sports-tech ventures. Especially considering that Birmingham will host the 2022 Commonwealth Games, this new partnership has unparalleled opportunities for the region’s tech businesses.
“Gymshark will be accessing our successful Serendip platform, which was set-up in 2016 to help businesses connect with commercial opportunities. Since then, we’ve prepared digital technology businesses for investment, helped drive growth and developed routes to market across a variety of sectors. We’re looking forward to working with Gymshark to apply this tried and tested model and ensure great regional innovations thrive.”
Taking the global sports clothing market by storm since establishing the business in 2012, Ben Francis began Gymshark by printing t-shirts in his parent’s garage, with the leading brand now operating 11 online stores across the world.
Gymshark opened its flagship Blythe Valley headquarters (GSHQ) in April, creating over 150 jobs. It has held pop-up shops all over the world covering destinations such as Los Angeles, London, Melbourne and its home city of Birmingham.
With the incubator’s launch rapidly approaching, work is now well underway at the Innovation Birmingham Campus to customise Gymshark’s centre ready for a cohort of promising technology businesses.