Australia’s Sports Tech Industry Living up to the HYPE

Sportradar enjoys a strong reputation within the world of start-ups and innovation technology, supporting and supplying events such as hackathons, organising the Innovation Challenge and helping startups grow with its Acceleradar programme.

Only last month, Sportradar partnered with HYPE Sports Innovation to provide data and expertise to tech startups involved in its Global Spin Accelerator Network.

This week, Sportradar’s Director of Sports Media for Oceania, David Edwards, was among the judging panel for the HYPE UQ Spin Accelerator Global Pitch Event, which saw 11 up-and-coming startups vie to land financial and expert support as part of HYPE’s Top 50 Programme.

By David Edwards – Sportradar Director of Sales, Oceania

For a remote country of just 24 million people, Australia has a long and proud history of punching above its weight.

From truly game-changing innovations like WiFi technology and the Bionic Ear, to the reigning NBA 2018 rookie of the year (yep, I’m calling it now – Ben Simmons is a lock for ROY), Australia has consistently churned out some of the most exciting products in sports and technology.

So, it’s no surprise that Australia has swiftly become a global leader in sports tech innovation. After all, it fuses together two of our greatest passions – sport and technology.

Sportradar recently formed a partnership with the HYPE Foundation – a global platform that facilitates connections and investment in sports innovation. HYPE Sports Innovation operates a handful of accelerators, hosted by leading universities, including the University of Queensland.

On Monday, April 9th, I was lucky enough to represent Sportradar on the judging panel for the HYPE UQ (University of Queensland) SPIN Accelerator Global Pitch Event. Set on the beautiful Gold Coast – host city to the Commonwealth Games – eleven teams slogged it out for two fantastic prizes that will help take their idea to the next level.

The winner would receive a $25,000 cash prize courtesy of the University of Queensland, plus automatic entry into HYPE’s Top 50 Program. One Australian team would also gain access to a 90-day residency program at one of Austrade’s ‘Landing Pad’ locations – a government initiative aimed at helping market-ready startups go global.

Catapult is often cited as one of the biggest sports tech success stories to come out of Australia in recent years. But Australia’s sports tech scene is much more than just wearables and elite player tracking. Together, the eleven startups covered a broad spectrum of technologies, including AR/VR, gamified fan engagement, Internet of Things, location-based apps, and player health and safety.

These included the likes of:

ANTI – an ambitious startup that is aiming to create an internationally accredited snow beanie that doubles as a helmet. In their words, the “world’s first truly soft, truly safe helmet” for snow sports.

JETSON INDUSTRIES – a company focused on movement sensor and wireless data technology across multiple sports, including golf and cricket. IoT technology is placed in the core of a ball to track things like ball speed, position, spin, trajectory, and a range of other exciting data points that are currently not being commercialised.

ARIVAL – a fan-centric company that delivers gamified player and team stats during live play. They’ve created an augmented reality fan engagement interface that allows you to point your phone at the court or the television – say, an NBA match – and receive rich, fascinating team and player-level insights in real-time.

BIOCONNECTED – a promising advanced stage startup that has created a set of earphones that incorporate optical sensors to measure heart rate and every fitness metric imaginable. In some ways, BioConnected are disrupting both the wearable and audio industries in one go, by providing a two-in-one solution.

WYLAS TIMING – a fully automated wireless timing system for swimming meets. The technology integrates with meet management software to eliminate errors and take the pressure off swimming administrators and officials.

(Matt Coleman (left) Head of Innovation at Arival, with Sportradar’s Dave Edwards)

It was an incredibly close contest, with participants marked across strict criteria that included market potential, product, competition, business model, progression and overall potential.

In the end, Arival took the top prize while BioConnected earned the equally valuable ‘Landing Pad’ award.

Sportradar launched its ‘Acceleradar’ program in December 2016 to help early stage start-ups get their ideas off the ground. Our new global partnership with the HYPE Foundation will allow us to provide our unique resources and industry insights to innovative sports tech startups all across the world, including Australia and New Zealand.

The Australian sports tech industry is in rude health – but it would be even ruder to ignore the global potential that this region has to offer when it comes to innovation in sport.

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