San Francisco-based Scrum Ventures and Dentsu have developed Sports Tech Tokyo, a one-year accelerator program for sports technology companies to provide business opportunities to test marketable products.
Scrum Ventures invests in sports technology for athletes and consumers, including wearable devices, sensors, and virtual reality (VR) technology.
Available from January 2019, the program is seeking applications from startups focused on a wide range of sports-related technologies and will initially select 150 companies to work with.
The use of technology in sport is extensive today. Some thematic applications include coaching and competition analysis, clothing and wearables, science and human performance, media broadcasting and communications, entertainment, e-sports, business and digital transformation, and sporting facility planning and use.
Venture investments in sports startups grew to US$1.5 billion in 2017, according to Deloitte – marking a 50-per-cent increase in two years.
With Japan hosting two major sporting events in the next two years – the 2019 Rugby World Cup and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics – the country hopes to add further value to the sports technology business.
While the Sports Tech initiative is not directly related to Dentsu’s advertising business, the company is exploring ways to manage fan engagement, an area of marketing and that working with companies that develop new technologies for sports fans can garner large amounts of useful data.
Examples as yet unconnected to Sports Tech could include systems enabling micro-sponsorship of sports teams or smart clothing that could send data about an athlete’s movements to insurance providers.
This venture will see Dentsu developing ideas with the start-ups that wish to participate in the programme. The first is technology to help athletes in their training, both physical and mental.
Another area of innovation is to improve the viewing experiences for audiences, which could include innovations in the field of virtual reality and programs to improve technologies at stadiums, such as smart payment systems.
This tech-based sports program will be integrated with many new forms of business models and revenue streams that are in development across the Dentsu Inc portfolio.