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Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre

Innovations that help people move
World-leading research in physical activity

The Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC) will act as the research hub for the National Centre for Sports and Exercise Medicine in Sheffield, a 2012 Olympic Legacy project which co-locates clinical services and physical activity facilities to help people with a medical need to exercise more easily. International recognition for the National Centre is demonstrated by its designation by the International Olympic Committee as a Research Centre for Prevention of Injury and Protection of Athlete Health – one of just nine around the world.

Following a £14m investment from the UK’s Department of Health, the AWRC will be the most advanced research and development centre for physical activity in the world, providing state-of-the-art, fully instrumented indoor and outdoor laboratories and a team of over 70 researchers delivering collaborative projects. These researchers, from Sheffield Hallam University, will be drawn from a range of specialities as required, from Sports Engineering,  Materials Engineering and Software Development, to Elite Sports Science and Psychology.

Through collaboration with commercial partners, the AWRC will create innovations that help people move, using the population of Sheffield as a ‘living laboratory’ to encourage and enable people to be more active and adopt healthier lifestyles.

The AWRC will develop technical services and products from concept to commercialisation, and also complete the academic research which provides confidence that these innovations will not only address market needs, but also generate positive health impacts through increasing levels of physical activity.

Welcome from Professor Haake

The first world population is facing an epidemic; one that is seemingly contagious. It’s not a communicable  disease, or an illness per se, but it is having a disastrous impact on people. A sedentary lifestyle is one of the largest causes of preventable death due to the major health risks that result from inactivity. Sedentary behaviour can cause

  • cardiovascular health problems
  • cancer
  • type 2 diabetes
  • weight gain
  • mental health problems
  • musculoskeletal issues
  • mortality

We have used technology to engineer activity out of our lives, and while advances in healthcare mean that we might be living longer, our actual healthy lifetime is becoming shorter.  That’s why the work of the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre is so vital. Bringing innovation and technology to life and having a direct impact on the population to encourage greater levels of activity will not only improve healthy lifetimes, but also have a huge positive impact on communities and commerce.

With the AWRC's understanding of healthcare, sports science, engineering and psychology, we are able to translate elite sport technologies to everyday health, helping people move more, which is key to tackling obesity and type 2 diabetes and improving emotional wellness.

This work will meet national and international public health challenges caused by physical inactivity, resulting in improved quality of life and a reduction in healthcare costs.

Our planned impact

The AWRC seeks to develop technical interventions that increase physical activity levels, establish what works and then disseminate successful technologies nationally and globally. Meeting these challenges will influence commissioning bodies and generate significant commercial opportunities for the centre's industrial partners. We envisage our work will deliver substantial external benefits, including:

  • More than £115 million cost savings to the UK by 2021
  • A continuing flow of innovation projects with outputs that affect real lives in Sheffield and the UK
  • A world-leading knowledge bank built from our experience of innovations that work, to help inform effective future developments
  • A sustainable model for commercial partnerships

Regional economic impact

The Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre's location and work will help create a new economic zone in the Sheffield-Rotherham corridor. Set in the heart of the city's Innovation District, as the centrepiece of the Olympic Legacy Park the AWRC will translate Sheffield Hallam's knowledge and know-how from across sport and wellness into funding from the public and private sectors. This funding will then be used to create jobs and spin-off companies, generating further wealth for Sheffield and the UK by increasing export opportunities.

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