(from media release)
Organizers of a new electric bike festival coming to the cycling destination of Bentonville next year hope to bring together thought leaders both inside and outside the industry to address the industry’s challenges and spur new innovation, with e-bikes as a key element in jump-starting market growth.
“My take is we need to innovate in cycling. There are all these things that are going to be happening in the next three to five years that are going to change everything, and a centerpiece of that is going to be e-bikes,” said Chris Mumford, a professor of innovation in the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
An avid mountain biker and cyclocross racer, Mumford is launching the Innovation Cycles Festival with industry veteran and Mountain Bike Hall of Fame racer Nat Ross, who recently relocated from Colorado to Bentonville with wife Aimee Ross, the new director of Bike Bentonville. The city’s Visit Bentonville tourism and visitors bureau last week approved $8,000 to help fund the inaugural event, with a date in June still to be determined.
Mumford and Ross hope to stage the fest next to the All American Trail in downtown Bentonville, with access to nearby riding areas including Coler Preserve. Class 1 e-bikes are legal on all paved and natural-surface trails, including singletrack, in and around Bentonville and the city of Bella Vista. The organizers hope to attract 15 to 20 companies for the demo and expo, with about 200 e-bikes available for demo.
In addition to offering consumer demos, educational seminars and events like an e-bike scavenger hunt, the festival will include a series of 15- to 20-minute TED Talk-style presentations on bicycle industry challenges, followed by Q&A sessions.
“The idea is getting key stakeholders together and talk about mapping out what the ecosystem is, then use designed thinking to frame the situation with the idea that over the next six to 12 months, working groups would be established out of that. And they would end up making subsequent presentations based on their findings,” Mumford said. “I’m a real big fan of what’s called ‘collab-tition,’ where folks are competitors in some categories but they realize it’s to their advantage to collaborate to make the pie bigger, rather than just trying to get the biggest piece of the pie all the time. I really think that’s where innovation is happening in other industries, and I think that’s what we need to apply to cycling.”
The organizers are looking to keep the event somewhat intimate, at about 150 people, and highly experiential. Then they’ll digitize it by producing video segments.
“The goal is to bring in thought leaders in this small environment and then to be able to democratize ideas through digital and media,” Mumford said.