DraftKings Launch New Dublin Office

Boston-based fantasy sports and betting company, DraftKings, recently celebrated the official launch of their brand new office in the heart of Dublin’s city centre. Covid-19 failed to stop the Boston team from joining everybody in Ireland for a night of celebrating their arrival in what DraftKings’ Chief Technology Officer, Travis Dunn, referred to as “the premier location for sports technology talent in Europe.” Travis also noted in his speech that Dublin and Boston were a great pairing due to the obvious history between the two as well as the ease of accessibility with direct flight operating between the two cities. He went on to mention how other tech companies that began operating here were delighted with how things were going within the industry in Ireland. Ireland’s new wave of many great tech engineers was praised by Travis.

Dan Kesack, the Director of Engineering at DraftKings, discussed the rapid growth and development of fantasy sports in the United States and how it would continue to soar exponentially over the coming years. This would require a greater workforce and would continue to create more opportunities in the sports technology industry over the years to come. He heralded Ireland as a tech hub, stating that they have came here and “immediately been able to find very talented people that hold a passion for sports”, something that is essential in the industry. “The sky is the limit here in Dublin.”, he concluded.

Numerous members of the Boston and Dublin teams were present to attend and were enthralled by the positive mentalities shown by everyone leading DraftKings’ charge into the Irish market and workforce. Our very own, SportsTech Ireland co-founder, Grainne Barry was amongst speakers on the night, wishing all of the team well and looking forward to the future opportunities that lie ahead for further collaboration.

All those in attendance were treated to a tour of the state of the art facilities in the new office. The office accommodates up to 30 employees and features fantastic murals on it’s walls.

There were several conferencing rooms, fully kitted out with the finest facilities and each aptly named after an Irish sporting star.

From all of us here at SportsTech Ireland, we would like to wish DraftKings every success in the future. This can only continue the trend of international companies arriving in Ireland and providing more jobs in the ever expanding industry. We look forward to more opportunities like this one coming around again!

Sports Entrepreneurship Masterclass 2018

SportsTech Ireland and UL’s Kemmy Business School Host Ireland’s First Ever Masterclass in Sports Entrepreneurship

On Friday 21st September, the University of Limerick welcomed a number of leading sports innovators and entrepreneurs, founders, brands and athletes to the Kemmy Business School as part of a two day “Masterclass in Sports Entrepreneurship, the first of its kind in Ireland.

The Masterclass, a partnership between Sportstech Ireland and the Kemmy Business School introduced guests to the global emerging trends and commercial opportunities in the sports sector and delivered practical insights, tools and techniques for the development of entrepreneurial thinking in sports. Key knowledge areas around idea generation, market validation, IP, route to market, data analytics, legals and funding were covered.

Attendees heard from international entrepreneurs and innovators from the world of sports business including Irish success stories Kitman Labs, Orreco and Sportego. Keynote speaker Sam McCleery, Under Armour’s Head of Innovation, flew in from Baltimore, Maryland to attend the event. Expert panels from Deloitte, Homes O’Malley Sexton Solicitors and leading educators from the university provided a range of learning opportunities. Panel discussions on acceleration, mindset and scaling enabled delegates to dig deeper into the entrepreneurial journey. A number of Irish athletes participated, including Ex-Irish Rugby Internationals Andrew Trimble, Jamie Heaslip and David Wallace, Irish Cricketer George Dockrell, World Cup Hockey star Roisin Upton, All-Ireland winning hurler Shane Dowling, and Irish Women’s Rugby International Niamh Briggs.

Opening the event Dr Briga Hynes, Head Department of Management and Marketing indicated “that the KBS is very excited about the launch of this Masterclass as a means of building greater connections between the entrepreneurship and sports management fields. It is a natural fit for UL and the Kemmy Business School given our close ties to sport, our reputation in delivering a range of practical based entrepreneurship education, training and mentoring support initiatives. As the worlds of business and sport collide, we are pleased to be leading the way in upskilling and creating programmes to prepare future sports entrepreneurs to capitalise on the many growth opportunities in this sector”

Cofounders Emily Ross, Martina Skelly and Gráinne Barry had this to say; “The global sports market has grown enormously over the last number of years. Ireland, and in particular the Mid-West, is perfectly set up to become a key players in the sports technology space. We’ve seen early signs of this potential in Limerick with the recent opening of the STATS EMEA headquarters in the city. Added to that, we believe that there are ample opportunities for athletes to move from sport into entrepreneurship. We wanted to empower athletes and future-entrepreneurs with the network, support and expertise they will need, to increase their likelihood of commercial success. We are delighted with the overwhelming interest this event has generated, and from the positive impact already noted on the ecosystem.”

SportsTech Ireland is an initiative that aims to establish the Mid-West as a world-leading destination for sports innovation and technology. SportsTech Ireland has put in place partnerships with the University of Limerick, LeAD Berlin, Ryerson University in Toronto, the University of Michigan and London Sport; all of which played a role in the sports entrepreneurship masterclass.

According to Deloitte, revenue from the global sports market was estimated to grow to 91 billion dollars by 2017 (not including sports merchandising revenue). Over 5 billion dollars has been invested in sports tech start-ups worldwide in the past two years and accelerators and incubators for sports entrepreneurs have sprung up all over the world, highlighting the ever-increasing business opportunities in this sector.


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. 

Spotlight on Kitman Labs – The Athlete Optimisation System


FOUNDED: Nov 1st, 2012

FOUNDERS: Stephen Smith & Larfhlaith Kelly

HEAD OFFICE : Dublin, Ireland

WEBSITE: www.kitmanlabs.com

What is Kitman Labs?

Kitman Labs is one of the rising stars in the Irish sports technology space. This position was confirmed at the 2018 BT Sport Industry Awards as the organisation was named winner of the inaugural Performance Technology of the Year Award. The company will be presenting at the September’s Masterclass in Sports Entrepreneurship, a workshop in partnership with SportsTech Ireland. With that in mind, we wanted to place a spotlight on this fascinating Irish sports tech solution.

Kitman Labs are the developers of a sports-based technology software designed to manage athlete health and performance. The technology help athletes, and trainers, to predict and manage injury. Kitman Lab’s system enables athletes to reduce the risk of injury, while improving overall performance.

How Did This All Come About?

Stephen Smith came up with the idea that would become Kitman Labs while working as the senior rehabilitation coach at Leinster Rugby. At the time Leinster had started to collect a large volume of data on its players without having any clear idea how to use it. Unfortunately, as is the case with many similar outfits, injuries were a serious problem at Leinster Rugby. Stephen watched on as players were forced to call time on their careers due to injury. Young players with many years left in them, given no other option but to retire. This is an unfortunate and ongoing issue across the world of professional rugby.

As an onlooker, Stephen was left frustrated at the amounts of data being collected with no real purpose. The issue he discovered was that the tools simply weren’t there to enable the club to do anything with the data collected. Instead of passively watching the ongoing injury problem grow, Stephen felt compelled to do something about it. “I felt like the athletes deserved more from us. We owed them a duty of care.”

As Stephen was completing his master’s degree he decided to place a focus on the topic of  “Combined Risk Factors as Predictors of Injury”. That is, using data collected on athletes to help predict future injuries. The findings that Stephen gathered from this research were then used on the Leinster Rugby team squad to great effect. The successful implementation of this system was enough for Stephen to pursue the idea of turning his solution into a start-up. And so, Kitman Labs was born.

How it Works

When working with Kitman Labs, teams collect data on their athletes. This includes daily movement assessments, subjective metrics about sleep, diet, soreness and mood. Teams can also aggregate data from third party devices such as GPS or game metrics. Once the data is centralised, teams have the flexibility to create data visuals and interrogate the data through their own analysis. This allows them to tailor training or recovery plans to each athlete or make quick interventions for at-risk-athletes.

There is no shortage of data in sport. However, there is a lack of tools that enable teams to properly interpret and find meaningful answers in the data.

Kitman Labs has built the world’s only Athlete Optimisation System™ that links data back to performance and injury. This helps teams to automatically identify meaningful trends in their athlete’s information. Management can therefore make quick decisions on how to improve the health and performance of the individual. Using Kitman Labs, coaches are able to understand the variables that elevate injury risk for individuals. Likewise with Kitman Labs performance analytics, teams are able to connect athlete data back to on-field performance metrics. This means that coaches can make decisions about an athlete’s training that will directly influence their ability to succeed on the field.

See Kitman Labs 3D Capture in Action

The short clip below gives a good idea as to how Kitman Lab’s 3D capture solution uses motion sensors during the player screening process.

Greater Player Availability – Greater Results

Kitman Lab’s mission is to change how sports teams use data to improve the health and performance of their athletes. The company believes that winning has as much to do with science as it does with desire. Kitman Lab’s products and services provide actionable insights that improve player availability and deliver stronger team results. They do this through employing a combination of machine learning and multivariate techniques that are grounded in scientific research.

There has been a tremendous amount of advancement in modern day sport. Teams can benefit from more advanced training methods as well as more sophisticated nutritional information. Nonetheless, the rise of injury is an ongoing concern. A tech solution that can proactively combat this issue is an exciting development to say the very least.

Breaking the Elite Performers Market

Kitman Labs has been working with some high profile clients worldwide to help them get the very best out of their players. Injury prediction, a previously foreign concept, is becoming a real option for sports teams. Some notable clients of Kitman Labs include American sports teams such as LA Galaxy, Buffalo Bills, San Jose Sharks and the NY Yankees. A number of top level rugby clubs such as Saracens, Bath and Leinster Rugby. As well as a host of English Premier League clubs. With users of their solution experiencing a huge drop in both injury layoffs and performance outcomes, the future looks very bright indeed for Kitman Labs.

Another high profile adopter of Kitman Lab’s ‘Athlete Optimisation Solution’ has been Rowing Ireland. Recently, we caught up with European and World Champion, Mark O’Donovan. We discussed how Irish rowers are using Kitman Labs to improve performance, Mark’s rigorous training schedule and the value of upskilling for elite performers. Mark also looked ahead to the massive challenge facing himself and teammate Shane O’Driscoll. The pair recently moved from lightweight to heavyweight in the hope of landing a place at the Tokyo Olympics 2020.

This guest post was kindly contributed by Ben Dillon, Content Manager At Inkvine. If you would like to guest post at SportsTech Ireland, feel free to get in touch. 

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. 


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.


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. 

The origins of SportsTechIreland

SportsTechIreland is a organisation committed to the development of SportsTech in Ireland. Its goal is to provide a bridge between coaches, athletes & players, investors and SportsTech entrepreneurs, businesses and international companies.

The organisation was set up by three female entrepreneurs and business leaders with a strong affinity for technology. All three were based in the Nexus Innovation centre at the University of Limerick. It was almost inevitable that they would join forces to help promote their shared passions, sport, and Limerick.

Grainne Barry is the COO and executive board member of Salaso Health Solutions, a connected health company providing Class I Medical Device technology for physical rehabilitation. Salaso specialises in evidence-based and data-led exercise prescription software which aims to get people better faster. Salaso is considered to be one of Ireland’s SportsTech success stories. Grainne has a number of degrees and qualifications across business, finance and technology, though she started out as a software engineer. A graduate of the top 25 Leaders Women Executive Network Programme from UCD, she is one of Ireland’s stand out female technology leaders. In her free time, she supports her local GAA club and coaches camogie.

Martina Skelly is the founder of Activate Marketing, founder and CEO of YellowSchedule. Martina has a strong foundation in technology and the web. Martina also runs a bespoke digital marketing consultancy, and has worked with clients such as Renault Ireland, Adare Manor, the University of Limerick, the Western Development Commission, Fota Island & Irish Farmhouse Holidays on their online strategy. Martina lectures for the Digital Marketing Institute and delivers the Online Marketing Module for Enterprise Ireland’s New Frontiers programme. Winner of Vodafone Women in Business Award and Silicon Republic top 100 Women in STEM.

Emily Ross is the CEO of InkVine Communications which was founded in 2016, her clients include WhatClinic, RowingIreland, Piply and more. Prior to setting up Inkvine, as Director of Marketing with WhatClinic.com she helped grow traffic and revenue year on year for four years, through the application of detailed and integrated inbound marketing campaigns. She spent a number of years as head of corporate partnerships for UNICEF Ireland, before taking on the role of Director of Public Fundraising. She lectures for the Irish Times, and as a freelance journalist, she has written for Image, The Gloss and a number of national papers and journalists. In her free time, she competes at rowing, as well as rowing coaching. She also runs an award-winning sports blog for women.

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.



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





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.


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.



When Passions Collide: Rugby, Technology and Performance Analytics.


When Passions Collide: Rugby, Technology and Performance Analytics.

An Interview with Andrew Sullivan, former coach/performance analyst with New Zealand Rugby and STATS.com Director.

Andrew Sullivan was destined for a career in SportsTech, even if he didn’t foresee how two of his passions would eventually collide, back in his days as a sports performance analyst in New Zealand.

“I had three loves, that of sports, the Crusaders, and Information Technology,” says Andrew, who had originally begun a career as a Systems Analyst in IT, before being snapped up by New Zealand Rugby.

Andrew spent almost a decade working as a coach and sports performance analyst for the Crusaders and Canterbury Rugby, working with the Crusaders, New Zealand Rugby and of course, the All Blacks. He went on to advise Australian Rugby Union for a further 6 years, before being headhunted by STATS, to work as a multi-sport product manager.

STATS geographic reach extends to Europe, China, Australia, and Africa, and its tech analyses athletic performance to deliver commercial insights, enabling coaches and front-office personnel to make intelligent decisions and gain competitive advantage. STATS boasts a database of over 100,000 players, and captures proprietary data from around 12,000 sporting events each year. Their software combines data analytics and video tracking to analyse matches, trends, opposition scouting opportunities and more.

“I have to admit, the transition from sports to sportstech was tough. My first role with STATS had almost as steep a learning curve as the one I faced at the start of my coaching career. My very first technology role focussed heavily on content, streaming video and live events. There was a lot to learn on the software side, but it was also incredibly exciting. With technology changing so quickly it meant that each day was about finding new opportunities – finding an edge – something that I was used to when working with athletes.”

Andrew has thrived in the STATS environment, though travel has been inevitable. With a HQ in Chicago, and a new office in Limerick, it means some time on the road. However, this isn’t too much of a change, life on the road with the Crusaders, and the All Blacks, took him all over the world, working with their high performance athletes. 

We discussed the challenge athletes face, when retiring from a sporting career. Professional athletes are often faced with serious career challenges once they reach their 30’s. Many athletes have begun to address the lack of meaningful support following high profile athletic careers, highlighted by recent press and interviews with the likes of Olympic badminton player  Gail Emms and others. 

Andrew believes that player welfare is key. He highlights how clubs like the Crusaders are leading the way.

“The life of a pro athlete is short, and player welfare is key. For example, the Crusaders are totally committed to ensuring players make the transition from performance to post-performance smoothly. The player welfare officer will help athletes identify a new role, they will look at financial planning, and ensure that players can make that transition smoothly and effectively.”

One example of an athlete-turned-entrepreneur is JP Hartigan, a Limerick native and rugby player who turned to product design in college, and launched his rugby tackle dummy back in 2009. JP was pro-active in his efforts, and sought out Andrew’s advice back in the early days of product development, when Andrew was working with New Zealand Rugby.

“It’s great to be back in Limerick again, in fact, one of the most promising startups I’ve seen in the space came from here. I met JP Hartigan of Shadowman back in 2010 as he was beginning to launch his tackle dummy into the US market.  I was here with Australian Rugby, and he got in touch. I think JP got it right – he identified a problem, and then he helped to solve it. He has managed to effectively control the load on players as they tackled. I have watched his progress with interest, and I’m delighted that he’s made such a big impact on US football.”

Concussion in rugby, and American football, is a topical subject.

When asked his opinion, Andrew said;

“It’s very important to address the issue of concussion and brain injury at the very earliest coaching opportunity, from day one for the youngest athletes. Prevention and coaching methodology is key.”

However, many clubs rely on volunteer and amateur coaches. And in this Andrew says that the education starts from the top with World Rugby and governing bodies and he emphasises that they are doing a good job with online coaching tools and education.  The severity of risk is such that the best practice must be applied throughout coaching systems, to protect all of those that play. SportsTech has generated interesting examples in this space – such as mouth guards that measure the impact of a tackle, however, this is a diagnostic rather than a preventative tool. It will be interesting to see how wearables, smart fabrics and player analytics are applied to solve this problem in the future.

 STATS has a fairly international scope, so how big a part does rugby play in that mix?

“STATS has a global focus, but the major elements would be worldwide soccer, international rugby and then the major US sports. The work we’re doing around optical tracking and pixel tracking is immensely fascinating, the data we are drawing down on player performance is second to none. When we also consider the new advantages available from machine learning and player outcome tracking, the future is wide open. Not only can we automate data analysis, we can start to understand playing styles, player performance and so much more.”

“Working with players gave me the euphoria and satisfaction of helping people to achieve their goals. Yes I miss that, however, working on the technology side is a new kind of exciting. There really is no limit to how much we can learn and I’m very happy to be in the heart of that kind of action.”


In conversation with Emily Ross of SportsTech Ireland, Limerick Oct, 2017, at the Savoy Hotel. Follow Andrew on twitter @sydneydigit for more rugby and sportstech insights.



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