Five Yorkshire universities have committed to a £200,000 project aimed at building a lasting academic legacy from the Tour de France Grand Depart.
Leeds Trinity and Leeds Metropolitan universities have joined Sheffield Hallam and the universities of York and Huddersfield in each agreeing to waive up to £45,000 in research fees for studentships, most likely PhDs, examining the impact of Le Tour.
The investment coordinated by Yorkshire Universities, which represents all 12 higher education establishments in the county, is one of the first major steps made by Cycle Yorkshire – the official Grand Depart legacy project.
Organisers are now appealing for businesses to back research proposals by helping to financially support participating students’ living costs.
Ian Rowe, from Yorkshire Universities, said: “Each year, Yorkshire’s universities work with thousands of companies on research and development and this higher education Tour de France initiative will lead to many more opportunities for the economy, health and environment.
“The offer from the five universities to fund research studentships, most likely PhDs, will create an excellent opportunity for businesses across the private, public and voluntary sectors to get involved in new and pioneering research.”
Mr Rowe explained that proposals have so far included looking into the benefits of getting more people exercising, the impact of community engagement with cycle clubs and the alleviation of medical conditions like asthma that prevent people from doing sport.
The world’s greatest cyclists will take to Yorkshire’s roads for the opening two stages of the 2014 Tour de France on July 5 and 6, riding from Leeds to Harrogate on day one and York to Sheffield on day two.
Cycle Yorkshire has the support of all 21 local authorities in the region, in its aim of giving everyone in Yorkshire access to a bicycle by 2023.
Graham Titchener, regional director of Cycle Yorkshire, said: “Cycle Yorkshire exists to seize the momentum created by the world’s biggest annual sporting event coming to our region and working with Yorkshire Universities across a range of subjects will create opportunities for this and future generations.
“The Tour de France legacy, Cycle Yorkshire, is made up of many partnerships to help and encourage more people to enjoy the benefits that cycling brings. The work we are doing with the universities across the region as partners in the legacy shows the breadth and diversity of the organisations involved and how far-reaching Cycle Yorkshire is.”
Businesses across all sectors interested in finding out more about the opportunities to develop research with the universities should call 0113 3431582.
With Le Tour’s visit just five weeks away, communities across Yorkshire are joining French towns and villages to celebrate the upcoming race during two days of La Fete du Tour events this weekend.
Riding sections of the stage one route in Skipton through Le Petit Depart, a mass Streetbikes cycle ride in Huddersfield and French and yellow festivities in York are among the scheduled events.
Chair of Tour organisers TdFHUB2014 Ltd Sir Rodney Walker said: “The Fete is the perfect opportunity for people to engage with the event.”