Innovation in sports and fitness technology start-ups has been handed a boost with the creation of the city’s first Sports Tech Hub. Backed by a partnership between London Sport and London & Partners, we invited Alex Zurita to explain a little more about the initiative.
Please can you give us an overview of the Sports Tech Hub, and how you came to being involved?
Sport Tech Hub is London’s first incubator programme dedicated wholly to innovation in SportTech. Sport Tech Hub will be supporting early-stage tech start-ups that can help create happier, healthier and more active populations.
Based at House of Sport, London’s new collaborative co-working space for the sport sector, start-ups involved in Sport Tech Hub will have access to a bespoke 24-week incubation programme providing commercial and creative guidance, as well as access to market through tailored introductions to other House of Sport residents including London Sport, Invictus Games Foundation, Street League and Rugby Football League.
Sport Tech Hub’s incubation programme is supported by partners and mentors, including FieldFisher, RLC Ventures, London & Partners, Crowdcube, Hub Spot and Sponge Marketing. These partners as well as London Sport itself, will provide their expertise, knowledge and facilitate mentors who will bring the 24 week programme to live as well as providing industry knowledge, connections to the market and potential investment.
To me, SportTech is one of the most exciting frontiers for physical activity and sport, and we are excited to be able to offer tech start-ups in this space the opportunity to thrive at the heart of London’s sport sector. As so many other sectors have demonstrated, technology-led innovation offers a real opportunity to build stronger relationships with people and influence their behaviours. If that potential can be harnessed to drive people towards being more physically active, the positive impact on people’s physical and mental wellbeing could be transformative for London.
Sport Tech Hub is about making it easier for SportTech, FitTech and HealthTech start-ups to thrive among London’s buoyant tech scene. By opening Sport Tech Hub in House of Sport, we’re not just making it easier for SportTech startups to find their footing in their earliest stages, but also providing a direct link between start-ups and the more traditional parts of the sport sector – hoping to change the whole sector’s understanding of what could be achieved by working closely with technology
What type of companies are you hoping to hear from? How early a stage, and what areas of sports tech?
We are welcoming applications from all start-ups that want to utilise tech to encourage or enable more people to be physically active and enjoy the benefits that come from participation – physical wellbeing, mental wellbeing, reducing isolation and loneliness and increasing community and social integration.
The programme is particularly suitable for start-ups that can benefit from direct gaining of industry knowledge, and therefore companies and entrepreneurs that can be agile with their product and personal development.
By accessing the programme and key to it, insight to the barriers and challenges faced by Londoners, start-ups would be able to release products, applications or devices into the market knowing that those are of need to Londoners or having been influenced by potential users, therefore eradicating releasing a product on ‘hope’ or ‘chance’.
What is the 24 week House of Sport programme, and how will it benefit participating companies?
Through our 24 week programme, start-ups will gain the knowledge and skills needed to grow and scale their business. The programme will cover areas of development including business and financial development, customer and market validation, brand and messaging, building industry specific networks as well as giving members of the programme with the framework to pitch for investment and connections to potential investors.
The programme will be delivered through a range of workshops, mentoring and drop-in sessions, space provision at House of Sport and community events.
What makes London such a good place for Sports Tech companies?
As an organisation, London Sport aims to make London the most physically active city in the world and supported by the Mayor of London and Sport England, our target is to get 1,000,000 Londoners more physically active by 2020. As part of a solution to help London achieve its target and vision, tech has never played a more important role; a role that London Sport will continue to support and advocate for throughout the capital and beyond.
From a sector point of view, right now the physical activity and sport sector is going through a positive step change in behaviour and approach to how technology can help us achieve a more active population, this is creating a fantastic opportunity for start-ups that want to drive innovation within participation.
As well as organisations within the sector looking for innovation and being much more receptive to engaging with start-ups, we also know that London is one of the most smartphone connected cities in the UK (around 80% of the population is now smartphone), therefore, the opportunities to digitally engage with a mass market has never been more apparent.
Lastly, there is the opportunity to take advantage of the leading position London has as the Digital Capital of Europe and how it leads the way in digitising a range of sectors – Finance, Property, Food, Travel to name a few!
We are in a world where transactions are made through a simple tap, information is sourced at the touch of the button and we engage with like-minded people in a virtual world, technology can help us influence millions of Londoners instead of hundreds. This is an opportunity that physical activity and sport must grab; by ensuring it meets the digital expectations of Londoners and uses data to design and evolve products or services, making it easier, more accessible for Londoners to search, find and book their products as well as making activity providers more efficient – all factors which would improve the lives of Londoners. Technology presents an interesting, and largely underexplored, avenue to achieve this ambition!
Finally, when is the deadline for companies to apply and how should they get in touch?
Interested start-ups can apply until 11:59pm on Sunday 10 September. More information on the Sport Tech Hub can be found on www.sporttechhub.london and application can be completed via the website or directly on https://www.f6s.com/sporttechhub/apply