Do you have an interesting idea for a new piece of sport-related technology? If so, a government-backed incubator is waiting to hear from you.
The Sydney Sports Incubator (SSI) is NSW Government-sponsored program designed to help startups developing new sport-related technology overcome their business hurdles.
Launched late last year, it’s based in Sydney’s Olympic Park. Its partners include the Sydney Olympic Park Authority (SOPA), NSW Institute of Sport (NSWIS) and SportsCamps Australia (SCA), with Lakeba as a technology partner.
Sydney Sports Incubator program manager Steve Roknic told BIT the program was created because the partners saw a need to support innovators with sports applications who were ‘knocking on their doors’ looking for some validation and support.
“The SSI reviews and supports sports themed innovation (in software, hardware, nutritional and medical applications) that may have a direct and positive impact on performance within the sports community as a whole from grassroots through to the elite,” Roknic said.
“We believe that if we can make sports engagement more attractive through these applications we support, and more people take up an activity, improve their performance and make it more sustainable then that can have a positive impact on the community and health infrastructure.”
Along with already established startups, the program is also open to people who haven’t yet started their business but have an interesting idea for a piece of sports-related innovation.
“People with just an idea are aligned to the SSI and we encourage people like that to come forward as well, they will still obviously have to convince the sports experts in our team,” Roknic said.
“So overall a really good mix of applications with a healthy pipeline of applications. And by years end we hope to have around 20 startups aligned to the SSI.”
According to Roknic, there are a number of benefits to participating in the program, including access to access to a shared workspace and services, along with a chance to with others in the sports innovation community.
There's a range of business planning information programs covering things like grants and tax incentive advice, investor and mentor events.
Where applicable, startups get access to the NSWIS facilities and team for testing and validation of products, and some of those services offered are free of charge for a period of time.
Another major benefit is access to the Sydney Olympic Parks facilities, where around 50 sports associations are based.
Since its launch late last year, Roknic said the program has seen some very innovative ideas from prospective and currently aligned startups, which have designed and manufactured their own devices or created unique software to support those devices.
“Some have created applications to work with sporting associations to assist the communication path between their clubs, athletes and families. We have nutritional supplements that help athletes prior to, during and after their training or game sessions,” Roknic said.
“We also have applications that support athletes' wellbeing in a number of ways, such as psychological performance support, monitoring injury rehabilitation, action plans and actions taken during an injury or medical incident, and in the reporting and protection of abuse of children in sport – a high focus area today.”
Aside from startups, there are opportunities for established businesses and sporting organisations to become involved with the program in various ways.
According to Roknic, the SSI has already had interest from venture capitalist investors in the US and Europe, and the feedback is quite positive.
“They feel we have something they would be interested in engaging in as Australia offers a more manageable and controlled market to test applications in. Engagement and validation for example, by NSWIS, was seen as plus to present to prospective investors,” Roknic said.
Advice on joining the program
Roknic suggests that entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs interested in joining the program should get in touch through the program’s website.
“To bring a startup on board we will chat to them first, just to get a level of understanding, ask them to fill in an application form, then invite them in to pitch to our team and interested parties from our sports community,” Roknic said.
“From there if successful they will receive an offer letter to participate in our program, which we are developing all the time.
“If you have a sports themed application or idea, you now have somewhere to showcase it, tell us about it, we want you to get us excited too.”