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Transforming a historic mill into a space for innovation

Mountain Bike Innovation Centre

Mountain Bike Innovation Centre2


South of Scotland Enterprise


Innerleithen, the Scottish Borders



This dynamic innovation hub will serve as a flagship centre for the cycling industry, particularly mountain biking, merging office, laboratory, creative and community space.

The background

The Mountain Bike Innovation Centre will provide an ecosystem of growth and development through an environment that promotes collaborative innovation. The Tweed Valley, a location already firmly on the map as an internationally recognised destination for mountain bikers, was a natural choice for developing such a significant venue for the sport. Accommodation will include multi-occupancy offices, workshops, maker labs, teaching space, retail/brand experience spaces as well as café, event and community space. 

Situated in the town of Innerleithen, the project involves the complete refurbishment, alteration and redevelopment of the former Caerlee Textile Mill, a category B listed building originally built in the 1790s as the first water-powered woollen textile mill in the Scottish Borders – a beacon for technological innovation and sustainable energy use.  The project has saved the Mill from likely demolition. Funded by South of Scotland Enterprise (SoSE) and Borderlands Regional Growth Deal it is set to bring significant regeneration to the region.

Mountain Bike Innovation Centre

The design approach

We initially completed a full options appraisal and feasibility study in 2018, before embarking on a design which seeks to convert a single occupancy manufacturing site into a modern, flexible building, compliant with modern building standards and which meets the varying needs of multiple occupiers.  Condition surveys were a critical predecessor to determine the usability of the existing structure. These uncovered significant deterioration within the existing building fabric and the need for a completely new internal structural frame to be introduced.

Internal placemaking is at the heart of the design approach, creating shared and open space to encourage interaction and collaboration. The aim is to design a place and space which feels alive, inspires creativity and promotes business growth with access for the local community through a public café and community space.

The separate boiler house, engine shed and chimney provide important historical setting and character to the Mill complex, creating the opportunity to integrate and creatively work with the structure and celebrate its place in community history. 

A key component of the design is ensuring sustainability by achieving operational net zero, an ambitious goal for a building of this age and type but one that’s driven by thought provoking discussions and new ways of thinking. The project is on track to meet these standards including a proposal to install a large solar PV array on the roof, which has required careful consideration with planning and heritage officers.

Mountain Bike Innovation Centre3

The impact

For the community, the new lease of life for such a significant site has garnered strong support. Historical site items have been preserved and will become part of the community experience.

The Centre will fundamentally remain as a place of work, staying true to the principles of its first use as a mill. Around four hundred new jobs will be created in an environment which is at the leading edge of a global mountain biking industry and so brings with it significant potential for future development. It will host academics and research by Edinburgh Napier University and will provide teaching space for Borders College for their BASE mountain bike leadership course.

The Innovation Centre will enable companies from across the globe to develop products and services and train athletes across the mountain biking and wider cycling sector. 

Mountain Bike Innovation Centre1

This project is about creating a world class hub for innovation in the cycling industry in a world-renowned mountain biking destination. It’s also about a positive and lasting economic impact for the community. We’re carrying forward the same principles of innovation, sustainable energy and investment that have been at the core of Caerlee Mills' existence for over 200 years. This is the continuation of a fascinating story in Scotland's economic and industrial heritage which we are extremely proud to be playing a part in.

Philip Macdonald

Managing Partner

Philip Macdonald Managing Partner Sector Lead

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