Spotlight on the FitrWoman App With Co-Founder, Grainne Conefrey

SPOTLIGHT ON: FitrWoman powered by Orreco


FOUNDERS: Grainne Conefrey and Georgie Bruinvels

HEAD OFFICE : Galway, Ireland


In September 2018, SportsTech Ireland and Kemmy Business School, UL launched the Sports Entrepreneurship Masterclass, which was the very first of its kind in Ireland. The two day event welcomed athletes, entrepreneurs, coaches and leading sports innovators to participate and present at the event. Over the course of the two days, there were many insightful lectures. One of the standout product talks, in terms of ingenuity and innovation, was given by Orreco Product Development Manager and FitrWoman Co-Founder Grainne Conefrey.

FitrWoman allows female athletes to optimise performance during their menstrual cycle. Many studies have highlighted that the menstrual cycle can be a major deterrent for women partaking in sport. In a study conducted by Populus on behalf Orreco, 54% of women have had to stop exercising as a result of their menstrual cycle. This increases to 73% in 16 to 24-year-olds. In a separate study by Women in Sport it was identified that 42% of women do not exercise while on their period. The FitrWoman app is helping to combat these issues. The app helps athletes to track their menstrual cycle. It then provides personalised training and nutritional suggestions tailored to the changing hormone levels throughout the cycle. We caught up with Grainne to discuss how the product came about, the remarkable highs to date and what’s next for this invaluable product.

Intrapreneurship and the Development of FitrWoman

Although FitrWoman first launched in the Apple Store in 2016, the seeds were planted years previously. Grainne graduated from UCD with a degree in Sports & Exercise Management. Her first job out of college was outside of Ireland in Boston where she worked with Hill Holiday Marketing Agency. Grainne explained the relevance of this role.

One of the biggest clients was Major League Baseball and I was working with the MLB account team. In this role I was working closely with the marketing team, developing the next seasons campaign. I also had to research and analyse the other major competitive sports in the USA. This included the NBA, NFL, NHL. It was an amazing experience.”

This experience gave Grainne her first taste of working with elite athletes. Upon moving back to Ireland she wanted to continue in this field and started working with Orreco in Sligo. Orreco is a company that is well known to SportsTech Ireland. It was founded in 2009 by Dr. Brian Moore and Dr. Andrew Hodgson. Their goal is to use proven sports and data science to enable elite athletes to perform at their best.

It was through this role that Grainne met Georgie Bruinvels. Georgie is a research scientist who,at the time, was completing a PHD on female athletes and the effect of the menstrual cycle on performance.

Through her research, Georgie was discovering all these fascinating insights, most of which weren’t widely known by the public. There was information on how the body changes during the menstrual cycle and how you can adapt your nutrition to perform better during your cycle. The more we spoke, the more we decided that this is something that all female athletes should know. We decided to pitch our idea to Orreco and see where it would take us.”

This bit of intrapreneurship proved vital to FitrWoman’s success. Having the backing and support of an established sports science company afforded them huge opportunity for growth.

Orreco gave us a small fund to put toward the development of the first version of FitrWoman. Initially, we outsourced the development to create an MVP version. However, after the success of this version, Orreco backed us even further and we were able to bring development in-house. We have a fantastic product team and sports science team to help us with future development. FitrWoman has very much become a part of the Orreco roadmap. Having the support of Orreco from the start has been incredible and has created some great opportunities for us.” 

Forbes, CNN, Ladies GAA and the US Swimming Team

FitrWoman is the first app of its kind on the market. Although there are other apps that help women to track their menstrual cycle, there is none that come from the angle of physiology and sporting performance. FitrWoman has been able to use this innovative angle as well as the help from a very well established company in Orreco, to garner worldwide attention and achieve success that is very inspiring for such a fledgling product.

We’ve definitely had a lot of great moments already. We were featured in Forbes Magazine, CNN, Italian Vogue and The Guardian. Georgie recently did a podcast with Judy Murray (Scottish Tennis Coach and Creator of Miss-Hits, mother of Andy Murray), who is a massive fan of the app. Sonia O’ Sullivan has also been introducing the app to younger athletes. Outside of that we were also featured in the App Store under ‘Best New Apps’. That’s something I like to tell people. Getting featured on the app store is much harder than you’d think. There are millions of apps out there!

In the past year, we have been working with some amazing athletes. Amongst others, we work closely with the Oregon Track Club in America and British Cross Country Champion, Emelia Górecka, has become a brand ambassador.

We have also signed some exciting partnership deals with the Ladies Gaelic Football Association and with the USA Female Swimming Team. The LGFA are a fantastic organisation to work with and we both have very similar goals to increase participation and awareness. Five players have also signed up as ambassadors. Working with the US Swimming Team will be a science and research partnership. It’s a partnership that we hope both sides will learn a huge amount from” 

Bringing an Elite Performance Platfrom to the General Public

FitrWoman is available to all users for free on the App Store. When the app was initially launched, it was aimed specifically at elite athletes. However, Georgie and Grainne quickly realised that they could translate the information in a way that was accessible and beneficial to the general public. While working with their elite athletes, Grainne and Georgie were able to build a bank of questions that athletes were interested in. This has helped them to develop the app even further.

Along with this, FitrWoman continues to grow its coaching platform. This is a paid offering where coaches can monitor their own athletes. The coach has access to a team dashboard. Through this dashboard players upload information about any symptoms they might be experiencing or where they are in their menstrual cycle. The coach is then given suggested plans tailored to individual’s needs. The platform helps coaches to better understand the players and work with them to optimise performance.

An Ambitious Vision for the Future

It is a testament to the ingenuity and effectiveness of the app that FitrWoman was featured in such prestigious publications as Forbes and CNN. Aside from the positive feedback and media spotlight, FitrWoman is also starting to grow a dedicated community of users. This early success has afforded Grainne to look ahead to a very positive future.

At the moment we are putting a huge amount of focus on app-performance and user engagement. To make a great app, you need to constantly be upgrading and making improvements with your target user in mind

We are putting a big emphasis on making our content very user-friendly. We also want our users to be able to interpret the data they are capturing in FitrWoman and make it beneficial and actionable for them. Right now, we are focusing on creating charts and insights to allow users to track their cycle and activity over time. Something else that we are pursuing is ‘wearables’ and integrating devices such as FitBits and Apple Watches into FitrWoman

And the Grand Vision for FitrWoman?

Our big ambition is to be the number one exercise tool for women. We want FitrWoman to become part of a daily routine. That desire is what is driving us forward right now.”

It is very inspiring to see an Irish Sports Technology company making such big strides and having such a positive impact on females in sport. If early signs are anything to go by there is a very bright future for Grainne, Georgie and their team at FitrWoman and Orreco. We would like to say a massive thank you to Grainne for sharing her story. For all our readers, be sure to head over to the App Store and download the FitrWoman app

If you would like to hear more from exciting Irish Sports Technology companies, why not check out our Spotlight on Kitman Labs. Kitman Labs have created another fascinating tool developed to assist in athlete’s performance.

To learn more about our recent Sports Entrepreneurship Masterclass, check out this blog post

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.


Spotlight on Kitman Labs – The Athlete Optimisation System


FOUNDED: Nov 1st, 2012

FOUNDERS: Stephen Smith & Larfhlaith Kelly

HEAD OFFICE : Dublin, Ireland


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. 

The Biggest Test of My Career – Irish World Champion Rower Mark O’Donovan

Technology is empowering athletes like never before in history. In sport, the most marginal of improvements can change everything. This is especially evident in rowing, where time and synchronisation is all important, miniscule adjustments can make all the difference. Irish rower Mark O’Donovan is now embarking on a challenge where every detail counts. Technology has played its part in what is sure to be a heroic journey. We caught up with Mark to talk all things rowing, technology, upskilling and taking on the biggest challenge of his career.

On Top of the World

2017 was a great year for rower Mark O’Donovan and his teammate Shane O’Driscoll. The pair were standing on top of the world having won gold medals at both the European and World Championships in the lightweight division. An unbeatable year like that doesn’t happen by accident. Years of training and competing had propelled them to the very top of their sport.

After hitting those great heights, 2018 represents a whole new challenge. They might be world champions but a change in structure meant their lightweight doubles category was no longer an Olympic event. A decision had to be made, there were options available but as Mark explained, really, there was only one.

After winning the World Championships last year we had to sit down and think about what’s next. Do we want to win another World Championships at lightweight or do we want to go to the Olympics? That decision was easy as Olympics has always been the dream.

We then had to think of the route there. Do we join up with a new crew at lightweight or stay in the same category together and move up to heavyweight. There really was only one option, we had to stick together. 2017 showed us that we had something special. We believe we have what it takes, it’s just a matter of moving up and embracing the challenge.

Taking on the Heavyweights

Deciding to move up to heavyweight is no mean feat. From being world champions, they now have to compete against much bigger men. At 5’10, Mark is the taller of the two and it’s not uncommon to face rowers of 6’7, as was the case recently in the Irish National Finals. In rowing, that kind of advantage counts for an awful lot. The challenge that Mark and Shane are embarking on could be one of the great Irish sporting stories if it goes their way.

At the National Rowing Centre in Farron Woods, sipping on a smoothie, in what now must be a common sight given the enormous 4,000+ calories they have to eat each day to gain weight, Mark spoke of the challenges behind the transition.

There are a lot of them. Qualification for the Olympics will come down to the World Championships in August 2019 where we have to finish in the top 11. We’ve only been at this “heavyweight project” for a couple of months now. That doesn’t give us much time. The big challenge at the minute is trying to put on mass while staying as aerobically fit as we can. We are eating all day to compensate for the training. It’s definitely tough to stomach at times.

Most of the guys that we’ll be up against will be naturally bigger. They would be around 90-95 kg while we are currently 76-78 kg. It’s not just weight, it’s lung capacity, VO2max, lever length and the experience of competing at heavyweight. We will be on the back foot for sure, we just have to row better and be technically more efficient than the rest. It is about being smarter, that’s our tactic anyway. We are well used to having the gun to our head so it doesn’t phase us too much.”

Train Like An Olympian

Competing at an elite level and undertaking such a big challenge is a full-time commitment. Mark’s schedule is jam packed, for six days a week every minute is accounted for. Mark explained the full-time training schedule that they hope will launch them into unchartered territory.

“We train six days a week. Monday, Wednesday and Friday it’s three session a day and Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday we go twice a day.

Most days are pretty similar. Up early and out the door around half 8. Usually we are pushing our boats off around 9/9:30 and we’re in the water for 90 minutes. After that it’s either off to the weights room or home depending on the day. In between you are trying to get a bit of food in but it’s difficult to eat with all the exercise we’d be doing. All you can stomach is porridge and maybe some supplements that are high in calories.

Once we get home after that we try to properly refuel and rest. If you can, you get another hour or so of sleep. That’s just to increase the overall hours of sleep which are obviously very important when training so much.

We try to get back down to the rowing centre before 5 o’clock  for an evening session. We push out as many sessions as we can in the water. If the water’s not rowable, we go indoors and use the rowing machines. It’s the time on the water and getting that mileage in that’s all important. Once that session is done, it’s evening and it’s home time again. That’s pretty much it. In between it all you try to get as much food into you and plenty of caffeine!”

Getting a Technical Edge With Kitman Labs

This gruelling schedule works in tandem with a company well known to Sportstech Ireland – Kitman Labs. Operating out of Dublin, Kitman Labs is a leading sports and analytics company used to help elite athletes optimize their training. (We spoke with Kitman Labs at the official launch of SportsTech Ireland.)

The Institute of Sport use Kitman Labs to track our training data. We put our entire schedule, training loads and recovery down on that. If something isn’t right we get flagged and make changes off the back of that. It’s very reassuring to get a report back every now and again. The software confirms your mileage and breaks down the intensity levels of your training. It helps to give your training a steer definitely.”

When asked if there was any other pieces of technology that he used to gain an advantage, his answer was an app you might not expect.

I use a meditation app called “Calm” as much as I can. I try to use it every day. The app guides you through a meditation session and helps to relax the mind. It’s all about following your breath and slowing down. It’s only a small thing but helps to calm the nerves and get a mental edge.”

Life Outside of Rowing

This type of professionalism and volume of training seems to leave little time for anything else. Mark spoke of life outside of sport and the importance of upskilling.

Thankfully, we currently get Sports Council Funding and that helps to keep us afloat. I used to work with EMC but found it difficult to mix the two. It’s great now to be able to put full focus on rowing and the World Championships. Upskilling is definitely important and I took a year out in 2013/2014 to do a Masters in Sports Performance which I found great.

At the moment, as you probably noticed from our schedule, there is little time for much else. During the Winter, I do try to train others. I usually take up strength and conditioning training for a few different clubs. Rowing Ireland also run a coaching programme that the coaches attend. I teach the Level 1 Strength & Conditioning through that which is great learning experience also.

During the Summer it is hard to do that but it’s important to get a positive distraction during the Winter months. That could be in trying to get some external studies or ways to further yourself. You don’t want to be stagnant. Thankfully, I have a degree behind me but you want to keep your coaching and Continued Professional Development (CPD) up while you are competing.”

A Promising Start to Heavyweight Life

Mark and his teammate Shane have a challenge of David vs Goliath proportions ahead of them as they try to bag a spot at Tokyo 2020. The early signs are quite encouraging however.

On July 15th, it was Irish Olympic heroes the O’Donovan brothers that grabbed the headlines winning gold at the World Cup 3 in Lucerne. Somewhat under the radar there was another impressive milestone for a pair of heavyweight newcomers. Only months after making the unprecedented jump from lightweight, Mark O’Donovan and Shane O’Driscoll finished third in the Men’s B Final and 9th out of 28th overall. In the overall context of what they are trying to achieve, 9th in the world was a major signal of intent. The first rumblings of what may well be one of the great Irish underdog stories.

Thanks to Mark O’Donovan for speaking with us and we wish him all the best for the year ahead. We initially caught up with Mark to discuss our upcoming MasterClass in Sports Entrepreneurship. The two-day MasterClass is perfect for all those passionate about sports who would like to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset. For full-time or part-time athletes it’s a launchpad into entrepreneurial life. You can find full details for the September event here.

Photo Cred –, balintczucz

Masterclass in Sports Entrepreneurship

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.


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.


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 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.


Want to get in touch? Email


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

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:

Video – leAD Sports Accelerator – the Legacy:

Social channels




Startup Overview:


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 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 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 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 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.



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 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. 


Privacy Settings
We use cookies to enhance your experience while using our website. If you are using our Services via a browser you can restrict, block or remove cookies through your web browser settings. We also use content and scripts from third parties that may use tracking technologies. You can selectively provide your consent below to allow such third party embeds. For complete information about the cookies we use, data we collect and how we process them, please check our Privacy Policy
Consent to display content from Youtube
Consent to display content from Vimeo
Google Maps
Consent to display content from Google