Innovators in the sports technology sector are being tipped to receive long-overdue commercialisation opportunities following the launch of an industry body and an upcoming multi-million dollar investment fund.
The Australian Sports Technologies Network, a not-for-profit member organisation, is to hold its first conference in November, along with a Dragons’ Den-style pitching competition.
A total of six sports tech start-ups will compete for $8,000 in funding. The event follows the launch of ASTN in April, bolstered by $225,000 in funding from the Federal Government.
It’s hoped that the ASTN will spur growth in the sports sector by bringing together entrepreneurs, investors and other industry players.
One member of the network, Australian Sports Technology Ventures, is already gearing up to aid the commercialisation chances of innovators in the sector with the formation of an investment fund.
The fund, set to exceed $10 million, is being put together by James Demetriou, who is the brother of Andrew, the chief executive of the AFL.
Craig Hill, executive director of ASTN, received government funding for the network just weeks after pitching the idea.
He says that Australia’s sport tech sector – which ranges from the development of compounds for cricket helmets to performance analytics – is finally set to start punching its weight.
“The network is getting national traction with the universities but there’s still a considerable length of time faced by inventors who want to commercialise their ideas,” he says.
“The (Demetriou) fund is very important because commercialisation is often the missing link for start-ups.”
“There’s not a lot getting to market, which is down to a number of things such as a lack of guidance on commercialisation, a lack of access to funding and not enough education.”
“Given our stature in world sport, there aren’t many Australian companies out there. This is the first time that there’s a co-ordinated industry approach, to bring everyone to the table. There’s a huge potential for growth.”
ASTN, which estimates that the global sports tech market is worth $600 billion – behind just aerospace and defence, aims to increase its 40-strong membership to more than 200 within the next year.