Director of Insight, Technology & Data
Specialist Advisor, Technology for Participation (London Sport)
Programme Manager Sport Tech Hub
When we launched Sport Tech Hub three years ago, it was at a time where many traditional sport organisations were still grappling with how to embrace the digital revolution. We had looked at the successes of so many other industries and recognised that dedicated efforts were required if the physical activity and sport sector was to avoid falling further behind. With a flourishing tech ecosystem in London we saw opportunity to facilitate innovation that would help make the city the most active in the world.
Since the programme launched, we have been proud to see real advances in the sport industry’s engagement with tech, innovation and the start-up community. Over the past three years, we have provided support to 31 ventures which, between them, have reached more than 130,000 Londoners. And, perhaps more important, we have seen many of these ventures grow and develop into sustainable businesses that are working to increase physical activity levels in new and exciting ways.
Alongside the start-ups and innovators that we have supported through Sport Tech Hub, we have also been proud to work with a host of sport sector organisations who have willingly opened their doors to share their own expertise in making sport work for people in every part of the capital. In particular, we are immensely grateful for the support of our core programme partners (Loughborough University London, Fieldfisher and PwC), network supporters (Sport England, Mayor of London, London & Partners and ukactive ) and our community of Sport Tech Hub mentors.
We are proud to host Sport Tech Hub, and its success remains a key part of our wider vision of making London the most physically active city in the world. As this report shows, we have some tangible successes that we can look back on with pride and, more importantly, some real opportunities to strengthen this work in the years to come. While this report gives a chance to celebrate the past three years, it also stands as a commitment to evolve and develop our work in the years to come, and to continue building our support to the role of technology and innovation in grassroots sport.
Director of Insight, Technology & Data
Specialist Advisor, Technology for Participation (London Sp
Programme Manager Sport Tech Hub
Sport Tech Hub was born out of a vision to bring the power of tech innovation closer to national efforts to increase participation levels in physical activity and sport. A new government sport strategy, published in late 2015, heralded a renewed effort to support more people across the nation to engage in and enjoy the benefits of physical activity and sport, and the launch of Sport Tech Hub in 2017 sought to ensure that new innovation in SportTech was able to play an active role.
Since its launch, Sport Tech Hub has looked to support some of the brightest new innovations in SportTech, helping to foster the capital’s burgeoning SportTech ecosystem and becoming a vocal champion for the role of London-based innovation in finding new ways to keep people happy, healthy and physically active.
The Sport Tech Hub programme is focused on supporting Founders, helping them gain insight into the physical activity and sport sector, the opportunities available to them, and the role that start-ups can play in using technology to tackle deep-seated societal challenges.
Through the programme’s unique connection to London Sport and collaboration with organisations including the Mayor of London, Sport England and London Councils, Sport Tech Hub has supported and accelerated the growth of 31 start-ups in the past three years.
Our programme support comes through a bespoke innovation programme, where we assess start-ups needs and provide workshops, mentoring and connections to help fast-track their growth and development.
To achieve the greatest impact, the Sport Tech Hub programme has aligned itself to seven key themes:
This is just the start of the Sport Tech Hub journey. 2020 marks a great year for the hub as we expand to tackle more challenges and have greater impact.Patrick Colbeck — Programme Manager
Our support to start-ups continues beyond the programme with a series of on-going engagement opportunities for Sport Tech Hub alumni as a part of our wider innovation network.
Community gatherings and events
Access to speaking opportunities and exhibition space
Access to workshops
Introductions to key members of the Sport Tech Hub community
Monthly drop-in session invitations
Introductions to investors
Funding alert service with check
On-going connections to the physical activity and sport sector
Data in the report has been drawn from surveying the startups from all three cohorts, conducted in Q1 2020 and from application data collected at the end of each cohort recruitment process. The total respondent base for the alumni and most recent cohort surveys was 71%
Sport Tech Hub’s unique position allows us to maintain an explicit focus on enabling innovation across the sport and SportTech sectors.
We work to make it easier for the most exciting SportTech ventures to quickly scale and enhance their impact on people’s lives through physical activity and sport.
Our acceleration work provides start-ups with new routes to market, increased business skills, and access to some of the industry’s most sought-after mentors and advisors.
1 We asked our alumni and those graduating the most recent cohort how much money they had raised since starting the Sport Tech Hub programme. The total respondent base was 22.
2 We asked our alumni and those graduating the most recent cohort about the number of people newly-employed since starting the Sport Tech Hub programme. The total respondent base was 22.
3 Founders involved in cohort 3 were asked a series of questions through online surveying at the start and end of the programme. Founders were asked to rate their knowledge and understanding of both the physical activity and SportTech investment landscape in London. We compared their end-of-programme responses to their initial answers.
Re-imagining Ways To Get Active
FitSwarm is a live online, two-way interactive coaching platform. The product empowers organisations to support the health and wellbeing of their communities, members or employees by providing live and interactive group classes delivered by expert instructors.
Since graduating from Sport Tech Hub’s first cohort, FitSwarm has gone on to work with NHS Trusts, sport foundations, charities and a major national retailer. More recently, FitSwarm has worked with the East London NHS Foundation Trust and Guys & St Thomas’ NHS Trust.
Enabling Active Travel
Active Things creates a digital infrastructure that supports more people to run, walk and cycle more easily in urban environments. The platform provides information on facilities (showers, bike parking and docking, places to change), routes (cycling, walking and running paths) and active travel friendly places (cafes).
During their time on the programme and as alumni, Active Things has gone on to form relationships with Local Authorities, gyms, corporates and leisure providers across the capital. Their services are currently live across a third of all London boroughs and they are iterating their product to further reduce common active travel barriers.
We help connect ventures to London Sport’s network of partners and support the development of new pilots and initiatives involving start-ups and traditional sport, health and physical activity organisations.
By supporting start-ups and public sector organisations to instigate new pilots, we support route-to-market access for innovators, and increase tech innovation in physical activity.
Sport Tech Hub is a can’t miss opportunity for sport tech startups. They helped me navigate the complex UK physical activity industry, opening doors into the sector.Seun Oshinaika — CEO & Fouder, Street Tag
Gamifying Physical Activity
The Street Tag platform works to inspire users to collect virtual tags from community hotspots and green spaces, with local leaderboards providing prize winning opportunities. The process enables Street Tag to drive users to specific areas at specific times, encouraging people to move more within a local area and increasing activity levels through everyday movement.
Sport Tech Hub supported Street Tag in building a relationship with Barking and Dagenham Council aimed at tackling inactivity and building community in the area. Having worked through a successful pilot phase, Street Tag is now delivering an on-going service with Barking and Dagenham Council and is running further programmes in Redbridge, Kingston-upon-Thames, Essex and other areas.
London Borough of Hackney – Embracing the Future
2017 & 2018
London Sport and Sport Tech Hub worked alongside the London Borough of Hackney to deliver two events focused on exploring the opportunity for digital technology and sport to support the lives of residents of the east London borough. The events sought innovative solutions to engage with residents facing physical activity and mental health challenges in one of the capital’s most diverse boroughs.
Involving over 200 community organisations and demonstrations from more than 25 start-ups, the Embracing the Future events helped to foster new connections between Hackney’s Leisure and Physical Activity Team and Sport Tech Hub’s community of start-ups. Attendees stated an increased knowledge about the role of SportTech in increasing participation and boosting mental health.
2017 & 2018
Played’s technology solutions are designed to remove barriers to physical activity participation, making it easier for fitness and sport to be accessible to all. Through introductions developed within the Sport Tech Hub programme, Played have supported the development of London Sport’s Get Active activity finder to enhance the platform’s ability to reach and support less active Londoners.
Get Active is a platform powered by open opportunity data developed to help Londoners easily discover physical activity and sport sessions taking place in their communities. Played’s support enabled the platform to accelerate its development and to focus more explicitly on the needs of less active Londoners. Since re-launching with Played’s technology integrated in early 2020, the platform has helped more than 4,000 people to find new activity opportunities.
By raising the profile of London’s SportTech scene on the global stage, we provide a catalyst for increasing support and investment into start-ups and ventures working within the capital.
Over the past three years, we have worked with global agencies to highlight the scale of London’s SportTech innovation in our effort to cement its place as the heart of the SportTech world. These efforts culminated with the publication of the first ever London SportTech report in 2019 authored by SportsTechX in partnership with Sport Tech Hub, with the report helping to restate London’s position as a global leader in SportTech innovation.
The programme put us in contact with the sports industry not just in the UK, but globally. I was able to leverage London Sport’s network to create awareness around my business."Charlotte Roach — CEO and Founder, Rabble
Le Tremplin Invest – UK Pitch Qualifier
Le Tremplin by Paris&Co.
Founded by the French Ministry of Sports and Le Tremplin by Paris&Co., Le Tremplin Invest is an initiative which aims to connect international start-ups and investors, culminating in the largest SportTech investment event in Europe. Sport Tech Hub partnered with Le Tremplin to host the UK regional pitching qualifier to the investment day, with cohort one alumni Rabble selected by a panel of independent judges, Sport Tech Hub mentors and partners.
As the selected UK representatives, Rabble pitched in February 2020 to over 200 international investors and leadership figures from the European SportTech industry at the Louvre in Paris. As a result of the competition, Rabble built relationships with key investors and potential partners across Europe and beyond. Sport Tech Hub further built on their relationship with key stakeholders in France and Europe and plan to build on our work with Le Tremplin on future European initiatives.
As the Sport Tech Hub programme has evolved, we have pivoted from a ‘one-size-fits-all’ model to an approach that works more closely with each individual venture, providing bespoke support designed to meet their specific objectives and ambitions. While many early- stage ventures will experience some similar challenges, each start-up we work with faces its own unique set of obstacles–and it’s vital our support has the flexibility to address these diverse needs. That flexibility has to extend to the situation of each Founder too. We have learned to work with a better understanding of each individual Founder, taking into consideration their own circumstances to develop a support timetable that gives them the best opportunity for success.
While technology is well-embedded across most aspects of the modern world, it is unhelpful to assume that all parts of an industry are ready to adopt early stage innovation technology. Since the beginning of the Sport Tech Hub programme we have worked to support and involve sport sector partners in our approach. By making partners a part of the process, we have seen enhanced levels of awareness and interest in the application of new ventures and the role of technology in breaking down barriers surrounding physical activity.
In its earliest days, Sport Tech Hub aimed to be a full-service programme working across every area of challenge for SportTech start-ups. As our understanding and experience have increased, we’ve learned where our specialisms lie, and where a better approach is to signpost ventures to other external resources and partners. Learning what our innovation programme does best and what differentiates us from other forms of support available to start-ups means we’re able to have a greater impact on the businesses we work alongside.
Partnerships can take a significant amount of time to develop and, while the aim of Sport Tech Hub has always been to accelerate that process for the ventures and partners we work with, we know that’s now always possible. Sometimes the ventures we’re supporting are at too early a stage to make them viable for immediate partnerships, and sometimes sector partners need more time to understand the opportunities of working with innovation businesses. Our support increasingly takes this into account, and works to support the development of successful partnerships–even if it takes time for them to take root.
Our innovation programme is only as good as the ventures we support. In order to broaden and enhance the impact of our work, we’ve looked to expand on the areas of SportTech that we’re focused on including a major new focus on Tech for Good and the SportTech ecosystems emerging across the UK and Europe. These efforts led to significant increases in the number of applications received to join the programme, and new avenues for us to support.>
When we started out in 2017, Sport Tech Hub was set up to follow the traditional Accelerator/Incubator model: a once-a-year cohort focusing on key areas of support for early-stage tech ventures. Over the past three years, we have recognised that we needed to adopt a more flexible and scalable programme that could allow us to adapt our approach and become more Founder friendly in our delivery.
From 2020, Sport Tech Hub will pivot from a rigid cohort structure to a fluid approach designed to support any ventures, whether they’re at Minimum Viable Product stage or ready for the next steps in their scale-up journey.
Putting the needs of Founders first, our new approach will mean that ventures can be accepted onto the Sport Tech Hub programme at any point in a calendar year. We will develop bespoke support and introduction packages based on each Founder’s needs, and delivered at the times they need it.
Building on the opportunities presented by our connection to London Sport, we will work more closely with organisations across the public sector to offer support and guidance on how technology can best support them in achieving their physical activity goals. We will introduce open challenge submissions for organisations to call for tech support, and will support Sport Tech Hub ventures to develop approaches that can meet these challenges. As London Sport worksto support more place-based initiatives, Sport Tech Hub will work to bring relevant ventures together with community stakeholders to explore the application of new tech solutions to local physical activity challenges.
In response to the covid-19 crisis and the lockdown response, Sport Tech Hub rallied start-ups from across the world to identify a wide-range of free solutions to support people’s physical activity levels. As the crisis moves through its next stages and eventually abates, we will look to build and expand upon this database making it a long-term resource for finding innovative new physical activity and sport products and services.
As Sport Tech Hub continued to grow and develop, our new model will provide more flexibility to Founders, more support to the public sector, and a more widespread approach to SportTech’s impact on physical activity and sport.
1. Become a mentor
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2. Work with us
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