In the world of tech startups, companies tend to cluster by industry. While financial, entertainment and health sectors are just three that have flourished in London, there are some areas that do not receive the same attention or investment. Sport is one of these areas. But, as of Decmber 2017, London has taken a big step into driving this sector forward by launching Sport Tech Hub, a 24-week incubator programme for startups that encourage people to be more physically active.
Formerly, sport tech companies have struggled to find the right funding as they are normally running for incubators and accelerators focusing on health. While the Sport Tech Hub provides funding, what it offers more importantly is the expertise and mentorship of industry experts. Sport Tech Hub is the brainchild of London Sport, an organisation founded in 2014 and supported by the Mayor of London, Sport England and the London Councils. It is the result of a recognition that, without investing and developing the digital capabilities of a sector, might well be left behind. London, as with many sectors and industries, is taking a first step where other tech hubs have not.
The first cohort has just been announced, with 50 applications being whittled down to the 18 that make up 2017’s intake. While there were many applications from companies preferring to focus on elite sport, the programme opted for members who demonstrated interest in mass participation in sport and an ability to reduce the bill of unhealthy lifestyles for the NHS.
Among the companies selected are those that help others organise events. Sport Heroes Group has facilitated races with up to 25,000 competitors, and Where allows members to see who nearby is having a kick around, or perhaps something more serious. Sport Tech Hub caters for individual exercise with AI startup TrainASONE, which aggregates data from its users to provide expertly calibrated advice straight from your phone.
For those who find the gym too boring, or football too blokey, there are other companies that might be up your street. Rabble disguises its exercise classes as different games that focus on group dynamics. Expect dodgeballs and big exercise balls packed in and around a thorough workout. Founded by Charlotte Roach – a former London 2012 hopeful whose cycling prospects were ended by a near-fatal accident – the classes have garnered acclaim from many already.
Finally, if you want your exercised disguised by another reason to turn up, Sweat & Sound might be for you. After months of tweaking in dance classes in New York and London, Sweat & Sound events launched in London in August 2017. Sign up to be invited to their events and expect live music and multi-sensory installations to accompany your workout. The exact location is only revealed two days before the event itself via text, which adds yet another element of suspense.
While applications for 2017’s cohort are closed, anybody hoping to join the programme should keep their eyes peeled, as this is likely just to be the first of many such ventures.