It’s an exciting time for the sector as the collaborative use of data becomes even more essential to providing the consumer with easy, flexible access to engage with sport and activity
– Dave Newton, director of mass markets, Sport England
Leaders from the sport, fitness and technology sectors have unveiled a dynamic collaboration to stimulate growth for digital startups that help people get active.
Three distinct but complementary programmes by London Sport, the Open Data Institute and ukactive, will now be progressed together, with support from Sport England, creating a more joined-up approach.
The bodies will work together to support startups with the aim of tackling physical inactivity, which is estimated to cost the UK £20bn a year and cause 37,000 deaths.
“The sport and physical activity sector continues to evolve and innovate to keep up with the digital expectations of its consumers,” said Dave Newton, director of mass markets at Sport England.
“The creation of this startup superhighway for physical activity innovators is a strong step in the right direction.
“It’s an exciting time for the sector as the collaborative use of data, both shared and open, becomes even more essential to providing the consumer with easy, flexible access to engage with sport and activity.”
The collaboration means existing and prospective digital startups will benefit from the combined expertise of the organisations, providing an accelerator for growth through mentoring, workshops and access to investors.
Targets for the project include expanding beyond apps to see data used to better integrate physical activities into local services; creating more immersive outdoor fitness experiences using augmented reality; or wearable technology tools that monitor physical health and support GPs with earlier patient intervention.
Prospective startups can apply to whichever programme matches their stage of growth best but also move between programmes as their needs change.
The Sport Tech Hub incubator led by London Sport provides an entry point, nurturing early-stage startups focused on raising levels of participation in sport. Its second incubation cohort will open to new startups in mid-2018.
The Open Data Institute’s OpenActive Accelerator, which launches in May, will support startups using open data to develop and validate ready-to-market digital products and services that make it easier for people to be regularly active.
And ActiveLab, ukactive’s growth programme for digital startups, which launched in September 2016, will cater for businesses focusing on growth and scale at home and internationally, having already validated their product and generated revenue. This year it returns for a second instalment, running for three months from March 2018.
Steven Ward, CEO of ukactive, said: “We want this joint vision to become the go-to launchpad for innovative and scalable physical activity businesses, so I'm hugely excited by the dynamic group of organisations that we’ll be working with to offer an end-to-end platform for tech startups.”