Welcome to our "Meet the Team" series - where we sit down with the people behind Sport Tech Hub. This week is long-standing team member Alex Zurita - Head of Sport Tech Hub.
So Alex, tell us about yourself?
I am from Venezuela and by now have lived in and around London for 20 years.
I studied Sports Coaching at the University of London, having been swayed by my love of sport and the opportunity to foster a professional career in the industry, something that was not accessible back in Venezuela.
While at University, I started to mix my education with professional experience, going on to work for Millwall Community Trust, Millwall Girls’ Centre of Excellence and the Football Association.
I then joined London Sport in 2011 with brief stints as Great Britain Women’s Football Team Manager at the World University Games in Kazan in 2013, and a secondment to the London Legacy Development Corporation as Programme Manager for the post-London 2012 legacy and multimillion pound project – Active People, Active Park, based in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
I dream of visiting Venezuela again and taking my family to the Angel Falls and venturing the Amazon rain forest within the country.
What is your role with Sport Tech Hub?
That is a great question, I would like to think that the role I do now will differ from what I will do in a few months’ time, and once new colleagues in the team have settled in.
In its simplest manner, our role as a team is all about ensuring that whatever Sport Tech Hub does is supporting technology, data and digital initiatives designed to raise levels of participation in physical activity and sport in the capital and beyond.
What it means is that the team and I will be supporting the wider tech ecosystem to accelerate innovation and the creation of products that have a positive impact on London Sport’s goals.
Our role is all about supporting ventures to grow and scale their products in a way that resonates with the sector and can support the increase of participation from less active audiences.
While supporting and upskilling organisations in the sector to embrace, adopt and develop partnerships with tech ventures that can ultimately add value to their own programmes and objectives.
When not supporting ventures in our community or organisations that can connect with them, I spend time supporting the growth of the ecosystem, connecting with programmes and events globally, or just trying to add a bit of value where I can.
Can you tell us about your journey with Sport Tech Hub?
My journey with Sport Tech Hub started before it was actually born.
While working at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, I took the conversation around open data, before it actually became OpenActive, and alongside the team , in essence used Active People, Active Park as a test bed for the first open data pilot in the country.
At the same time, I did a project using WiFi and visitor data to understand ‘customers’ and iterate provision based on our audience as a project.
Lastly, I was part of an innovation challenge that saw the likes of OpenPlay and BetterPoints test their product in the Park.
That led me to being part of the original team that started working on Sport Tech Hub back in April 2017 and thereafter when it launched in October that year.
Since then, I have had the huge privilege of heading it and working with a great bunch of colleagues, enabling us to accelerate 34 tech ventures which, between them, have reached more than 130,000 Londoners and raised £4.2m of investment.
Outside of accelerating that cohort of ventures, we published the 1st deep dive on the London SportsTech ecosystem, grown a community of around 100 ventures from 16 different countries and helped over 40 public and private organisations to pilot products in our community.
All of this was published in our impact report in November 2020, which served as a way of storytelling what has taken place since officially launching in August 2017.
This impact has been achieved through a team of colleagues that are / have been part of London Sport and Sport Tech Hub since. Definitely a #OneTeam effort.
Why Sport Tech Hub?
I truly believe that if we want to see a real shift in participation, technology and collaboration with entrepreneurs is a key part of the solution.
Reality is that we, as a physical activity and sport sector, are vying for people’s time and attention, time that can be put into entertainment, arts, leisure, travel and so on.
These industries will continue to foster and take advantage of technology with the aim of making people put their time, effort and resources into their industries.
Be that transforming the way we book trains, through to how we design buildings, how we order taxis, food or simply consume entertainment, technology is here to stay.
We need to continue shifting our mindset as a sector, being curious around how technology can help us, how we integrate entrepreneurs as part of our workforce and recognised their solutions as a component to tackle inactivity and grow participation in London and beyond.
I believe that the case for fostering technology is a no brainer. Technology is a driver and an enabler.
There are brilliant innovators out there ultimately building technology that can bring social change and impact, it is our role to harness that rather than remain disengaged.
What’s your favourite sports/physical activity to do?
Easiest question to answer by far!
I love playing baseball, football, basketball and hacking my way around a golf course.
However, right now most of my physical activity is focused on training for the London Marathon this October – an all-time dream which I am hoping to tick off! Wish me luck.