SportsTech Hub at Elevate, 9-10 May 2018, ExCeL London

Elevate is the UK’s largest fitness & physical activity trade show. The exhibition contains 1,000’s of the latest products & innovations whilst over 200 expert speakers share information across an action-packed free-to-attend two-day programme.

Elevate 2018 will be the UK’s largest gathering of fitness, performance and healthcare professionals. Attendees will be able to discuss the very latest trends and debate the future of fitness with insights into how technology is transforming the sector.

A new Tech Hub will take place at the event, which is supported by London Sport’s SportsTech Hub, ukactive’s Active Lab and the Open Data Institute. It will feature new start-ups and innovators; giving attendees the opportunity to see the very latest technology that is set to disrupt the physical activity market.

With over 150 suppliers represented within the exhibition hall, there are a large number of innovations and new products on show, in addition to the free-to-attend Elevate Thought-Leaders Conference and seminars.

REWARDS FOR THE BEST ON SHOW

A popular addition to last year’s show, the Elevate Innovation Awards returns in 2018 to recognise the best products and services in defined categories, linking to the show’s themes of inclusivity, performance, health and wellbeing and business. Judged by a panel of industry experts, the five categories are: Best Health and Wellness Innovation, Best Workout Innovation, Best Facility Innovation, Best Innovation for Human Performance and Best Start-up.

Max Quittenton, Founder & Director of Elevate, adds: “We’re understandably thrilled to welcome such a huge number of high quality exhibitors again this year. Elevate provides the perfect opportunity for companies to showcase their products, gain valuable exposure and engage in essential discussions about how their products, services and innovations can help tackle such a complex societal issue as physical inactivity.”

Supported by Public Health England, ukactive, London Sport, CIMSPA, and The Institute of Sport, Exercise & Health (ISEH), Elevate 2018 promises to be an unmissable event for start-up and established sports technology businesses.

Click here to register for your free 2-day pass. 


Innovation and Technology in Sneaker Design – An Expert View

Sneaker marketing expert Philip Boyle takes a look at the latest innovations from Adidas and Nike, and looks at how changing technology has revolutionised a global, multi-billion dollar industry. 

Philip Boyle is a Technologist, SportsTech Ireland Mentor and Sneaker Collector. 

In a world where a single Instagram picture can start or kill a fashion trend, the hype cycle of what’s hot and what’s not has never been so volatile. For sneaker companies, whose products can take as long as 2 years to go from concept art to arriving on stores’ shelves, this ever shortening time in the spotlight for new products represents a significant risk to the success of their R&D investments.

Given the value of what’s at stake – the Nike groups’ sales alone for 2017 were reported as being worth $34.4 billion by the Financial Times – it’s no wonder that the companies involved are keen to tackle this problem head-on, and some of the solutions they have come up with wouldn’t sound out of place in an episode of Star Trek.

Adidas Speed Factory

In order to be able to react to trends more quickly, manufacturers realised they needed to shorten that long product lead time, and that meant they needed to completely rethink their existing supply chain model.

Using new techniques including heat bonding as opposed to glueing, and robot controlled laser cutting of their sneaker designs, Adidas have attempted to solve the problem at their Speed Factory in Germany. This facility will allow their designers to go from sketch to prototype to manufacture in a much shorter time, giving them a chance to produce small runs of high-end sneakers perfectly tailored to specific niches.

The innovation doesn’t come cheap though, with a pair of their recently launched Speed Factory AM4LDN, designed for users in London, costing €220 compared to the usual price tag of €180 for their comparable Ultra Boost sneaker. The target consumer for the product though is most likely tuned into the latest trends and willing to pay a premium for the latest release.

Nike SNEAKRS App

While Nike has also quietly been making their own investments in automation via companies with suitably apt names including Flex and Grabbit, they are also experimenting with how to influence the hype cycle using direct marketing to registered users of their mobile app SNEAKRS (or SNKRS if you’re in the US).

Their incredibly sought after release in collaboration with the Off-White brand in late 2017 included an activation where app users had to track down a branded truck parked somewhere in Berlin. When they logged into the app and their GPS coordinates matched the location of the truck they were given the chance to purchase the extremely limited shoes.

With no warning that the activation was due to happen, Nike managed to make headlines around the world with the surprise drop, further fueling the hype cycle for the upcoming release.

Parley For The Oceans

We are all hopefully aware of the growing problem of plastic waste ending up in our oceans, and the potential ecological disaster it represents. One of the reasons that sneaker fans around the world have heard so much about this problem is thanks to a group called Parley, a group of innovators who have been working away for years now with different partners to highlight the issue.

With Adidas, they teamed up to provide a yarn made out of reclaimed ocean plastic that was then used in the fabrication of a limited edition sneaker. As a proof of concept, their first release was restricted to just 50 handmade pairs, featuring a white upper made of the recycled plastic which was then accented with a vibrant blue thread taken from recycled fishing nets.

The collaboration was a massive PR hit, and spawned a series of sneakers from the two companies that continues to this day, and is still one of Adidas’s most talked about annual releases.

 

Carbon Digital Light Synthesis

By far the most Star Trek-like innovation comes from a Silicon Valley 3D printing company called Carbon, that has teamed up with Adidas to make a midsole for sneakers that looks out of this world.

The intricate lattice structures that make up the sole of the $300 Adidas Futurecraft 4D sneaker have entirely different patterns in the front, middle and rear of the sole to allow different performance driven responses for each part of the foot during a run.

Not only that, for future releases there is the possibility of taking a scan of each individual customer’s feet and tailoring the shape of their soles to their exact fit. Combine the speed of automated upper manufacturing with the 3D printed midsole and suddenly you could be buying your own uniquely designed and perfectly tailored sneaker from a “factory” on your local high street.

The age of hyper-personalised locally manufactured sneakers may not be that far off, but for now, it will remain a niche aimed at purchasers willing to pay a premium for exclusivity and the kudos of being an early adopter.

But think about this: what will the hype cycle look like in a decade when consumers themselves have access to the tools to be their own sneaker designers, and the manufacturers simply provide the production systems? The brands are going to have to be careful not to innovate themselves out of existence.

_________________

Philip Boyle is a sneaker marketing expert who runs a regular meetup in Dublin for sneaker aficionados called Coffee and Kicks. Follow the trends over Instagram, or peruse his personal collection on his website https://ghostboy.ie. Philip is just one of our fantastic SportsTech Ireland Startup Mentors, where he advises on marketing and SEO. 


SportsTech Ireland Expands its International Board

SportsTech Ireland Grows Advisory Board In Ireland and the US

[Limerick; 6th February 2018] SportsTech Ireland has announced the addition of two new members to its international advisory board, including Sam McCleery, the VP of UnderArmour’s Innovation Lab in Baltimore in the US, and George Kennedy, Corporate Partner at Holmes O’Malley Sexton Solicitors, headquartered in Limerick, Ireland.

SportsTech Ireland is a not-for-profit organisation that champions sports technology and innovation, helping to position Ireland as a leading destination for FDI and startups. The organisation has formalised projects and partnerships with Ireland’s Industrial Development Authority, (IDA), Ireland’s leading sports campus the University of Limerick, the University of Ryerson, Toronto, leAD Sports Accelerator in Berlin and Stadia Ventures in the US, among others.

McCleery has strong Irish connections and has a history of driving change and innovation in multiple sectors. As Chief Technologist with ESPN (the world’s largest sports TV network), he championed fan engagement across platforms. With a long career in sports TV, he created the field of ‘virtual’ advertising, creating groundbreaking adverts which revolutionised the commercial ad space.

Kennedy joined HOMS in 2011 from A&L Goodbody in Dublin. Since making Limerick his home, he has also been a champion for change, shaping the growth and development of the city, as an advisory board member of Innovate Limerick and as a Director of Limerick Chamber. HOMS employs over 150 people across its offices in London, Dublin and Limerick, and offers extensive legal services across 26 practice areas.

They both join a distinguished panel of advisors that includes award-winning founders, investors, athletes, entrepreneurs and educators. SportsTech Ireland, with the support of its advisory board, and a diverse range of mentors and international partners, has committed to doubling the number of sportstech startups in Ireland by 2020. SportsTech Ireland has been instrumental in working with the IDA to attract a number of high profile sportstech firms to the midwest of Ireland, with the creation of over 120 new jobs.

ENDS

Want to get in touch? Email hello@sportsTechIreland.com

 


Events: Fan Engagement Dublin

Fan Engagement, Dublin 2018

The third annual Fan Engagement Conference takes place in Dublin in March 2018. Established in 2016 by Sportego, this will be the first time it has been held in the capital. The event has emerged as a key event for sports business and marketing people and this year’s event is expected to be no different.

As always, the speakers at this year’s conference are chosen to represent a wide variety of the current issues and talking points from the business of sport.

Speakers from Everton, the Lawn Tennis Association, AZ Alkmaar, Bradford City, the Aviva Premiership and Caribbean Premier League will share their experiences alongside marketing and communication people from Irish Rugby, Belfast Giants, Paralympic Ireland, Ulster Grand Prix and Leinster Rugby. With insightful panels and excellent networking opportunities, this event is a must for Sports Business professionals.

Book your tickets now https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/fan-engagement-conference-dublin-tickets-42416955255?aff=eac2


Berlin’s Adidas Family Funded Accelerator Winners Announced

19 iOT, Video, Apps and Hardware Startups stand out at the leAD Selection Days

 

In July, leAD Sports Accelerator, the sports startup programme developed by the grandsons of Adi Dassler, invited 40 sports startups from all over the world to gather in Berlin for two gruelling days of competition and assessment, with the goal of selecting 15 companies to participate in its sports acceleration program. Winners will come to Berlin for three months of intensive mentoring, leadership development, network building, and those remaining in the accelerator after the semi finals on Oct 11 will receive an investment of €25,000. Eventually, due to the high quality of the invited startups, 19 instead of 15 were selected to join leAD  in September.

 

The programme, aimed at sports companies at early stage, received 480 applications from 26 countries. Teams that assembled in Berlin came from as far away as New York, Hong Kong, Tel Aviv and New Delhi, joining other teams from all over Europe.

 

Trends of note: There were a high number of startups commercialising video technology within the sports market. These included video analytics for feedback, player performance, as well as technology for score keeping and tracking. Video analytics for athlete scouting as well as trend analysis was also a common theme. Apps of course were plentiful across the board.

 

IoT was everywhere and present in a diverse array of companies. Smart tennis courts, smart referee watches, and smart athlete devices all stood out as companies that had harnessed connectivity to improve sports for all. Sports nutrition startups were also out in force. A smart bottle with Nespresso style nutrient capsules made the final cut.

 

Manufacturing innovations also abounded. Winners of note included a skateboard designed to mimic all the movements of a surfboard, a helmet with detachable earphones, a suitcase that could connect to your bicycle for bike tours, and socks with a special surface that acted like shoes.

 

Tim Krieglstein, Managing Director of leAD said: “We were overwhelmed with the volume of ideas, the quality and the innovation that we saw here in Berlin. It is remarkable what can be achieved when you are truly passionate about an idea. We are delighted to be a part of so many new stories in the world of sports.”

 

After an intensive interview and selection process, the following 19 companies were announced as winners, and will be accepted into the leAD programme, which will begin in Berlin in autumn:

 

– Wingfield
– UNIT 1
– Skinners
– Fitto Nutrition

– Reachbird Sports
– Accuwear
– 2020 Armor
– bstoked
– Bio Boards Landsurf
– Venuzle
– Evolve Basketball App
– Sentier Adventure Gear
– Valtik Foods
– Starting 11 LLC
– The Movement Athlete
– Winmill
– ForwardGame AR
– Who Knows Wins
– Horse Analytics

 

About leAD Sports Accelerator:

 

leAD Sports Accelerator – legacy of Adi Dassler, launched in Berlin, Germany to boost talented founders and turn promising startups from seed to fully-functioning, profitable ventures.  The first edition of the leAD Sports Accelerator will take place from 12 September to 8 December 2017 in Berlin, Germany. leAD Sports Accelerator was initiated by the grandchildren of Adi Dassler together with a unique group of shareholders who are experts in the fields of venture capital, business, sports business and tech.

 

Passion for sports – leAD Sports Accelerator: www.leadsportsaccelerator.com

Video – leAD Sports Accelerator – the Legacy: https://vimeo.com/202071653


Social channels

 Twitter: www.twitter.com/leADsports

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/lead-sports-accelerator

Facebook: www.facebook.com/leadsportsaccelerator

Startup Overview:

 

Wingfield
Wingfield is developing a system that can transform any tennis court in the world into a smart court. Playing on a court that is equipped with their system, the players get the same game analytics as the professionals do. With a combination of hardware and Arti cial Intelligence, the system keeps track of the score, analyzes strokes and gives personal feedback right after matches or practice sessions. From the average speed of serve to a point by point video analysis, the system provides all the information needed to improve. The system only costs a fraction of a professional system and is easily set up.

 

Unit 1

UNIT 1 developed SOUNDSHIELD, an all-season action-sports helmet with wireless, detachable headphones. It provides a seamless experience both on the slopes / parks and outside of them. When skiing, snowboarding, skateboarding or biking you wear both, the helmet and headphones, seamlessly connected. When done riding, you simply detach your headphones and take them with you, no need to leave the music behind. It also features a speci cally designed interface, a proprietary docking system, Hi-Fi audio and a built-in mic for taking calls.

 

Skinners

Skinners is a new kind of footwear. The innovative sock-shoes are designed for travel and sport enthusiasts. They provide ultimate freedom of socks with protective elements of shoes. Due to their compact dimensions, Skinners are useful as a handy backup footwear for outdoor activities (e.g. inline skating, cycling, hiking, rock climbing etc.) or as a primary pair of shoes (gym, yoga, pilates, running etc.). Skinners are produced with a unique waste-free technology that does not use any adhesives or seams, guaranteeing that the abrasion-proof handmade bottom part is neatly joined to the upper antibacterial material.

 

fitto Nutrition

fitto is an IoT consumer health startup aiming to disrupt the supplements industry. tto wants to create the new age of smart personal nutrition with a smart bottle, pods and AI engine platform that optimizes nutrients intake and body potential through user pro ling. It syncs and utilizes data from biometrics and health cross devices and platforms. The users get real-time nutritional status and progress on goals.

 

Reachbird

Reachbird is a Influencer Marketing SaaS-solution that uses AI to nd the right influencers. The SaaS-solution of Reachbird provides marketers with three tools to professionalize influencer marketing. In the rst step, a search engine helps marketers to identify influential persons in social media that really t the purpose of their advertising campaign. The search engine is based on AI, using social media data to make a perfect match between advertiser and influencer. In the next step, a management-tool helps marketers to control advertising-campaigns in every step – giving marketers the possibility to communicate with influencers as well as an integrated payment solution. The third tool provides in-depth analytics on the outcome of a social media campaign with influencers. Reachbird now wants to tap into influencer marketing in the sports industry.

 

Accuwear

Accuwear provides athletes and race participants with powerful information they did not have before. With the Accuwear Band, athletes can gain access to ranking positions, live-tracking, estimated nishing times, time/distance from their next competitor ahead and much more during the race. The live data is sent to the mobile app so that fans and spectators can follow the action from anywhere. The data collected is monetized through media organizations such as TV and social media feeds.

 

2020 Armor

2020 Armor wants to change the way we do martial arts in a competitive way. Common counting systems in Taekwondo, the most popular martial art (80 million people practicing), favor taller players and are hard to understand through the electronic counting that was introduced eight years ago. 2020 Armor’s goal is to provide a solution inspired by street ghter games. Fighters in a competition wear vests with sensors and start all with a certain amount of “energy”. The harder the ghter is hit, the more energy he loses. The rst one to lose all energy is defeated. This should bring even more excitement to martial arts.

 

bstoked

bstoked is a marketplace for action & adventure sports travel, which makes outdoor sports experiences around the world accessible to a large, global audience. It minimizes the planning time, risks and costs while optimizing the travel and sports experience on many levels. Sports enthusiasts can easily discover and book unique sports experiences around the globe, which are offered by independent local tour operators or experienced local sports practitioners that can hardly be found elsewhere. It allows local hosts with little to no infrastructure to attract guests without expensive intermediaries.

 

Bio Boards LandSurf

Bio Boards developed the LandSurf, a skateboard that through its innovative setup allows you to perform unique surf tricks and maneuvers on land. Using advanced research technics, they’ve mapped the biomechanics of sur ng and engineered a board that perfectly recreates the sensation of sur ng on the land. The development was done in corporation with professional surfers. Additionally, the board is made of recycled materials only.

 

Venuzle

The vision of Venuzle is to make the planning and coordination of sports activities user-friendly. At the same time sports providers are given the opportunity to optimize their management, communication and distribution channels, as well as simplifying manual processes and increasing the utilization. They provide an online marketplace to search and book sports venues and sports courses, match sports partners, nd new teammates, join other teams or manage their own teams for sportspeople. For sports providers, the Venuzle Sports Manager is an enterprise management solution for municipalities, local councils, clubs and schools to manage their facilities, courses and enrollment or offering of private.

 

Evolve Basketball App

Evolve Basketball App is a virtual training platform for youth to enhance their skills regardless of their demographic, location or money situation. It combines social media with gami cation features implemented so users can have the ability to unlock videos via ads free of charge and the ability to purchase coins to unlock videos. Users also can choose from multiple elite certi ed trainers across the world. The app allows them to interact with the trainers on a personal level. Users also can save up on coins as the coins are a virtual currency that allows you to buy goods inside the app from sponsored brands.

 

Sentier Adventure Gear

Sentier Adventure Gear is a hardware startup focused on building technical, smart and tailored products for outstanding performance in the most challenging urban and outdoor conditions that encourage enthusiasts to empower life as a journey by avoiding complexity and time- consuming effort. Their rst product is the Bike Trolley, a new concept of a trolley bag, easily convertible to a high-performance bike trailer.
It drastically enhances the luggage handling experience while providing an outstanding riding performance, reducing travel costs and stress.

 

Valtik Foods

Valtik Foods developed a fast-absorbing hydration mix under the trademark TITANIUM that provides faster hydration avoiding stomach distress both for the amateur and the endurance athlete. The mixture of sugars and electrolytes moves from the gut to the bloodstream in just 15 minutes compared to other products that do this in 30 minutes or more. It favors gastric emptying and carb absorption rate in the small intestine and inhibits glucose saturation in the cell membrane of the cells in the body. They also understood that different sports have different sweat rates, and energy and muscle use. They thus developed four lines of TITANIUM segmented by sport category adapted to each sport’s speci c needs.

 

Starting 11 LLC

Starting 11 is a daily fantasy soccer app. Users build an 11-player fantasy roster of real-life soccer players and compete against other users. Statistics accumulated by real-life players are converted into fantasy points that are earned by the user’s 11-player fantasy roster. The user’s team with the most fantasy points at the end of a single day wins the contest. Starting 11 offers both free contests and contests where users can win cash prizes. Starting 11 is dynamic because users can make up to three in-game, real-time substitutions, just like a real soccer man- ager. Their geolocation feature allows users to challenge fans watching the match nearby in a soccer bar or soccer stadium. Or, users can in- vite friends to play private 1 vs. 1 games.

 

The Movement Athlete

TMA is an educational platform & technology making learning bodyweight and movement disciplines like calisthenics, gymnastic, acrobatics and circus skills – previously, expensive and inaccessible – easy, fun and safe for everyone. They distill the knowledge of the world’s best gymnastic & calisthenics coaches and physiotherapists to make professional training available to anyone. Through comprehensive athlete assessment, they identify exactly where you are at and create a fully personalized training program just for you. Each workout pushes you a little bit more, learning new and harder movements, and unlocking new levels of strength, flexibility, and mobility.

 

Winmill

Winmill is building a training tool to improve every ice hockey players’ abilities to train smart. They are building a training device that can pass and shoot pucks by using stereovision to provide the highest level of training for every individual. They also provide video and statistical review about the trainings. Additionally, they are developing a software for coaches that aggregates information from trainings and games through innovative sensor technology.

 

ForwardGame AR

ForwardGame AR is building a bridge between the virtual and the physical worlds, bringing the fun of playing back to the streets, parks and backyards. Their mission is to build a variety of solutions, including jogging and workout gami cation, real-world multiplayer games, smart interactive playgrounds and many more. Their rst game is a real-world real-time mobile strategy game (capture-the-flag). Users are required to get outside with friends, divide into two groups and start the battle! During the game, they gather power-ups, attack the opponents, defend their base and capture the enemy’s flag. Every meter traveled counts as a game point. The battle lasts 20 minutes and the recommended number of participants is 6.

 

Who Knows Wins

Who Knows Wins (WKW) is an interactive social gaming platform that allows friends, family, and colleagues, to compete against each other in leagues, using their knowledge, skill, and luck to predict results on virtually any sporting event. The WKW- Team is trying to take the gambling’s negative stigma away through socializing it. Their platform is not as much about money as it is about community. WKW is the place to predict, compete and win cash in the company of friends, family or even total strangers.

 

Horse Analytics
Horse Analytics is the easy one device solution to connect horse and owner 24/7 allowing for an easy access of health and trainings related aspects. HorseAnalytics empowers horse enthusiasts to monitor and improve the health and training of their companions by applying successfully tested technologies from human sport wearables combined with constant data quantification and real-time scientific analytics, fostering an intimate understanding.

 


SportsTech Ireland Innovation Showcase

SportsTech Ireland launched on the 15th of June. We welcomed 100 special guests to King John’s Castle, where we shared our vision and our values, as well as some old fashioned hospitality, to accompany the broad variety of companies that exhibited on the day.

We featured hi tech companies at every stage, from ideation right through to those turning over tens of millions overseas. We welcomed companies working in wearables, gaming, high performance, analytics, sports clothing, equestrian tech and lots more.  Keep your eyes peeled for showcase interviews like this one with Kitman Labs. 

 


SportsTech Ireland Launch: Kitman Labs

At the official launch of SportsTech Ireland we were delighted to welcome over a dozen companies to the Innovation Showcase. one of these was Kitman Labs, a sports data company based in Dublin that enables athletes and coaches to avail of and interpret real-time results. Kitman Labs employs more sports data analysts than anyone else in the industry.  They are also offering the world’s first athlete optimization system as a cloud-based service.

A huge thanks to Kehlan Kirwan at RedEye Media for putting together this clip from our launch. 


Optiflow Digital: A Case Study of Intelligent Mouth Guards

Intelligent Mouth Guards: New way of preventing secondary concussion brain injuries

by Paul McGurran, Optiflow Digital

 

Are you a parent whose children play high-impact sports such as rugby? If so you are probably aware of the growing concerns that injuries from secondary concussion can cause teenagers and young adults. The Will Smith directed movie “Concussion” has also helped raise public awareness of the potential dangers of continuing to play on while still concussed. It is estimated that each year approximately 3.8 million concussions occur in USA and that in roughly half of these cases players don’t report it.

 

Definition: A concussion, also known as a mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI), is caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to either the head or the body that causes the brain to move rapidly inside the skull. A concussion changes how the brain normally functions. Signs and symptoms of concussion include headache, nausea, fatigue, confusion or memory problems, sleep disturbances, or mood changes.

 

Emergence of Intelligent Mouth Guards Market

There are a number of US start-ups emerging that have been working on developing Intelligent Mouth Guards that seek to address the above problem.

 

Prevent Biometrics, founded in 2015 and based in Minneapolis, completed a Series A funding round of $2.5 million in 2016. Co-founder and CEO Steve Washburn was previously the CEO of Shock Doctor Mouthguards for 15 years, where he built the brand into the market leader. The accuracy of the Prevent technology has been scientifically validated by the Cleveland Clinic.

“Research has shown that accurate head impact measurements are impossible to achieve without a secure coupling to the skull. This is why we chose to embed our impact monitor in a mouthguard, and develop our technology and intellectual property around this concept,” said CEO Washburn.

How does Prevent Biometrics Work?

Prevent Biometrics (www.preventbiometrics.com) accurately measures head impacts in real-time on the field of play, giving athletes and coaches the information they need to make sports safer. Embedded in a mouth guard and paired with a mobile app, Prevent’s impact monitor continually monitors the athlete, collecting every head impact received. If an impact force exceeds a pre-set threshold, a red LED immediately illuminates on the mouth guard and an alert is sent to team coaches through the mobile app.

The head impact monitor uses a patented deformable body algorithm to measure the force, direction and location of head impacts in real-time, providing accurate and comprehensive view of athlete head impacts. The company plans to offer two versions of its head impact monitor for athletes ages 11 and older, starting at $199.

Summary

In summary, we have discussed the emergence of an intelligent mouth guard start-up. What is innovative about the post-impact feedback to managers and coaching teams is that it is “real-time” and removes any debate about whether a player should stay on or withdraw from the field of play. This will prevent potentially very harmful secondary concussion brain injuries. It will be interesting to plot the progress of Prevent Biometrics in the coming years.

Optiflow Digital was established by Paul McGurran in 2012 and is based in the Nexus Innovation Centre, University of Limerick. Paul has over 19 years experience in Usability, Online Customer Experience and eCommerce. He is an Enterprise Ireland mentor to Irish start-ups including Pinpoint Medical, Von Bismark and Accuvio Software. Please feel free to contact Paul via Linkedin.

https://ie.linkedin.com/in/paul-mcgurran-2ba22822

 


Limerick, the hub for SportsTech Ireland

Limerick, the hub for SportsTech Ireland

 

What do you think of, when you think of Limerick?  

Inevitably when I ask this question, sport of one form or another features in the first 5 words.  Be it Munster Rugby, the UL Arena; Tom Barr; Special Olympics, the 50 metre pool; Ger Hartmann; rowing on the majestic Shannon river; the World Student Sports Games, or the new 25 metre diving pool opening soon.  However, one thing stands above all else – the enthusiastic, passionate sporting fans and spirit that pervades Limerick.

 

Background

This idea for this initiative was borne out of a research project by an Executive MBA team from the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan.  Len Middleton, Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at the Ross School of Business has been a long-time visitor to Ireland and particularly to Limerick and the mid-west.   Len brought his 100th Irish team to Limerick in September 2016, this time to lead a project on examining the start-up and scaling ecosystem and how it could be powered up.  The project team met with many stakeholders in the City including UL, LIT, Limerick Enterprise Office, Innovation Works, etc, as well as many start-up entrepreneurs and established companies.   One of the many ideas conceived was for a Limerick-based cluster bringing together two of the cities key areas of interest, Sports and Technology.

“SportsTech Ireland can provide a bridge between coaches, athletes & players, investors and sports and technology entrepreneurs, businesses and international companies.”  Professor Len Middleton, University of Michigan.

In 2015 Ireland’s first ever sports business cluster was established in Limerick with a target of creating 500 jobs within five years.  The National Sports Business Cluster was developed in association with W2 Consulting, University of Limerick and Innovate Limerick.  Building a specialised SportsTech hub for sports innovation and technology is a natural extension of this project, linking to the Universities for research and Sports Science and IT/Engineering; LERO (Irish Software Research Centre); entrepreneurs; indigenous and multi-national technology companies; coaches, players and athletes.

Formal clusters are known to work well.  Dundee is noted as a video games cluster and has been credited with driving a 600% growth in Scotland’s gaming industry.  Dublin is focusing on becoming a Fintech super-power cluster.   Galway is Ireland’s med-tech cluster. As Michael Porter has said “the enduring competitive advantages in a global economy lie increasingly in local things—knowledge, relationships, motivation.”  Clusters are not new thinking but they are viewed as the new kind of team.  A team where the performance is much higher than the sum of the parts.  

A SportsTech cluster for Ireland can compete on an International scale with Israel, London, Paris, Toronto, Boston, St Louis, and Silicon Valley.    The aim is to specialise in key verticals:

  • Performance
  • Analytics
  • IoT
  • Fan Engagement
  • eCommerce
  • Broadcast 
  • Stadium Tech
  • eSports

 

Leap of faith

A SportsTech cluster for Ireland requires a long-term strategy and commitment.  Establishing it in Limerick takes advantage of the natural sporting ecosystem that already exists.  Making SportsTech Ireland a success requires motivation, innovative thinking, collaboration and a competitiveness; the hallmarks of any great team.

The official launch of SportsTech Ireland is set for June 1st in Limerick.   It all began with an idea.  But the raw material that can power this idea is, of course…people.

 

Useful Links

https://michiganross.umich.edu/

https://hbr.org/1998/11/clusters-and-the-new-economics-of-competition

http://www.limerickchamber.ie/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Invest-In-Limerick-2017.pdf