We caught up with Sport Tech Hub Programme Manager, Nisha Valand, to hear how the Sport Tech Hub members are getting involved in London Tech Week and why tech innovation plays a crucial role for the future of physical activity in the capital.
London is aiming to be at the forefront of new technologies and to ensure all Londoners can benefit from opportunities they create. How is Sport Tech Hub trying to support that?
Sport Tech Hub is the UK’s first technology incubator, backed by London Sport. The programme empowers and scales tech start-ups that are dedicated to encouraging more people, particularly Londoners from all backgrounds, to live a physically active lifestyle. By joining the programme, start-ups working across technologies including Wearable Tech, Apps, Gaming, X Reality and Artificial Intelligence, can benefit from our 24 week programme equipping early stage start-ups with hands on product development and business growth support as well as access to our network of private investors, strategic advisors, corporates as well as the potential to trial their product across London Sport’s wealth of connections. Our holistic ecosystem is uniquely placed to support early stage start-ups that could play a major role in solving the inactivity problem in London.
How are the members of Sport Tech Hub getting involved in London Tech Week?
With over 200 events taking place, start-ups will be engaging in a range of events across the week. Our alumni members, TrainAsONE and Racefully, are taking part in FutureFit which takes place today – the biggest gathering of tech start-ups and sports innovators during London Tech Week in the heart of Olympic East London. The event will be hosted at Plexal: the tech innovation centre in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park within a few strides of the Velodrome, the London Stadium and the London Aquatics Centre where British sporting history was made in 2012. In addition to this, our members have secured places at Startup Grind on Wednesday, which brings together 2,500 entrepreneurs, investors, corporates, and 100 exhibiting start-ups. It will be a full day of thought-provoking keynotes, educating workshops, and intimate VC Q+As delivered from over 75 top industry speakers covering a range of topics.
What are the challenges faced by UK tech start-ups and how is Sport Tech Hub supporting members to overcome them?
According to Tech Nation’s 2018 Report, London has secured its position as 3rd global tech start-up ecosystem, and although the UK has a strong reputation in the ability to start businesses, start-ups often cite a few common challenges as they scale: access to talent and access to funding. Speaking with our alumni members, they also mentioned that lack of awareness of the physical activity and sport sector can be challenging. By providing co-ordinated support in, not only the sector but also from London’s tech ecosystem, Sport Tech Hub can offer a strong path for founders as they focus on growth and customer identification, in order to give them a better chance of success.
Why is it important to work in partnership in the tech industry and how has this been going for the Sport Tech Hub members?
Partnerships are key to succeed in any industry and in any business. There has been an issue that although the UK and London specifically has a developed tech ecosystem, there are certainly silos in place which have reduced the opportunities for founders and their start-ups to develop and grow because of the lack of cross-organisational partnerships. Because Sport Tech Hub is supported by Sport England and the Mayor of London, we are in a unique position to work with government, the public sector and those from the tech industry to provide meaningful co-ordinated partnerships for those on our programme. A number of our Sport Tech Hub members have pilots and product trials in place with corporates, the NHS, a private gym chain and funding opportunities from the technology sector.