Dr David Batterbee, from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Mechanical Engineering has received The Royal Academy of Engineering’s ERA Foundation Entrepreneurs Award 2009, for an innovative device. It is unique in that it can detect differences in the terrain a mountain bike is travelling on.

Most mountain bikes have a shock absorber system in place to absorb the impact of bumps and keep the rider in control. However, these devices often compromise performance and the rider has to manually adapt the shock absorber to suit different terrains, by turning a switch.

Dr Batterbee has developed a rear shock absorber that electronically monitors the severity of the terrain and then optimises the bike’s performance automatically. On smooth terrain, a platform is automatically switched on to reduce rider induced suspension movement and to maximise pedalling efficiency. On rough terrain the platform is automatically removed for enhanced shock absorption capability.

The ERA Foundation Entrepreneurs award looks to recognise the collaboration of research with entrepreneurial promise in the field of electro-technology. The award and £40,000 cash prize is made possible by the support of the ERA Foundation.

Dr Batterbee said: “It is a great honour to have received this award and to have been recognised as one of Britain’s up and coming entrepreneurs. The award will directly contribute towards the business start up costs required to drive the first product to market – a magnetoRheological mountain bike rear shock absorber. I feel privileged to have received such substantial funds and the mentoring that has been made available from leading business experts will be invaluable during the start up period.”

Notes for editors

  1. The Royal Academy of Engineering ERA Foundation Entrepreneurs Award is the latest award in the Academy's awards portfolio. Made possible with the generous support of the ERA Foundation, the annual Award is open to both individuals and small teams. It seeks to identify and reward engineering researchers who exhibit a combination of business awareness, entrepreneurial potential and complimentary personal qualities in the field of electro-technology (which includes electrical and electronic engineering, aspects of biomedical engineering, electro-mechanical engineering, optics and optical engineering, instrumentation IT, software and hardware and materials related to these areas).
  2. Founded in 1976, The Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship - comprising the UK's most eminent engineers - provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain's engineering community.
  3. The ERA Foundation supports activities that help bridge the gap between research and exploitation in the broad field of electrotechnology. Activities include support of projects at the early stages of commercialisation, investment in start-up and young technology companies, raising the profile of engineering to young people and promoting the importance of high quality research and development to government, industry and academia. 

For more information please contact

Tonia Page, PR Consultant, The Royal Academy of Engineering on 07770 845984