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Turkish giant Fenerbahçe pledges support for sports tech startups

As sports clubs express greater interest in technology initiatives, Fenerbahçe and the 1907 Fenerbahçe Association, one of Turkey’s leading sports clubs, have partnered with HYPE Sports Innovation to launch a special acceleration program for startups

Deep technology initiatives engaged in artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, the internet of things (IoT) and big data are helping sports clubs gain capabilities to evaluate millions of their followers and their wealth of data.

In this sense, incubation centers and acceleration programs are of great importance, being platforms that help realize mutual opportunities.

Looking at innovations in sports and seeking to maximize the potential of sports technology startups in the region, Fenerbahçe and 1907 Fenerbahçe Association, one of the Turkey’s leading sports clubs, have partnered with HYPE Sports Innovation, one of the world’s largest sports innovation platforms, to jointly launch a special acceleration program for startups.

The Sports Innovation Acceleration Program is seen as one of major steps to further develop sports innovation culture in Turkey.


Pilot application opportunity

Held at the Ülker Stadium’s Fenerbahçe Şükrü Saracoğlu Sports Complex this week, the program was attended by Fenerbahçe Secretary-General Burak Çağlan Kızılhan and 1907 Fenerbahçe Association Chairperson Rıfat Perahya in person and Hype Sports Innovation Chief Operating Officer (COO) Zvika Popper via video call.

Moderated by national basketball player Sinan Güler, the acceleration program was closely followed by Fenerbahçe Sports Club board members and saw 10 local and foreign startups being evaluated.

Projects of Yasemin Ük from Uniqqene, Mateusz Dluzniwski from ReSpo Vision and Nadav Sofer from MixZone made the top three rankings and will be offered an opportunity to make pilot applications at the Turkish club.


Global step

Addressing the event, Kızılhan stressed that the program would provide an important opportunity for entrepreneurial candidates aiming to become global from day one to enter the rapidly developing sports sector.

“In Turkey, it is one of our biggest goals to be able to develop sports technologies with innovative perspectives, to support entrepreneurs looking to develop projects in this field, to guide our entrepreneurs in the most correct way and to implement these projects,” he noted.

“We had the opportunity to listen to the projects of 10 domestic and foreign startups offering innovative solutions in the field of sports from various sectors. Here we will offer the top three startups the opportunity to take advantage of the opportunities of Fenerbahçe Sports Club and to implement their projects as pilot applications.”

The investment in sports technology initiatives helps sports clubs communicate better with millions of their fans and participate in events, and paves the way for athletes to perform better. All this puts startups specializing in technologies that include data, analytics, fitness and biotechnology to the forefront.


Support for Turkish sports

Delivering a speech at the event, 1907 Fenerbahçe Association Chairperson Perahya expressed the belief that Turkey, which he said is rapidly integrating into the world in all areas with its young population and dynamic structure, will be able to further advance in the field of sports only with strong institutional structures and strong cooperation.

“We are very proud to announce that the cooperation we have implemented from this point of view will provide service at highest level to the whole Turkish sports with the participation of Fenerbahçe Sports Club,” he noted.

“The development of the project, which has come in first here, and its implementation with the acceptance of the relevant federations will provide a very important prestige on behalf of our country and our club.”


Program to yield important projects

For his part, HYPE Sports Innovation’s Popper said they were “honored” to have implemented such project with two prestigious and powerful formations Fenerbahçe Sports Club and Fenerbahce 1907 Association.

“HYPE Sports Innovation is a global company that manages a network of 10 SPIN Accelerators programs around the world. In addition, the company organizes various events with sports federations and brands, providing them with the opportunity to meet and communicate with thousands of sports startups,” he said.

The company’s activities have enabled innovation investment and applications in various leading sports sectors of the world to gain momentum, Popper added.

“I think that important projects will come out of this program that we are conducting in Turkey with Fenerbahçe Sports Club and 1907 Fenerbahçe Association, and with the right investments, this success story will be heard all over the world.”


Nearly $787M investment in 103 rounds

Investment in sports technologies engaged in data, analytics, fitness and biotechnology to help athletes play and perform better have been following a positive trend in the last year.

Though they may not exceed the record of $1.4 billion that the industry saw in 2020, this year’s numbers have already surpassed any other previous year.

Some $786.8 million of venture capital has been invested in the industry in 103 announced rounds in more than eight months of this year, according to Crunchbase data. Most of the largest rounds have taken place over the last 12 months.

Tal Brown, CEO and co-founder of Palo Alto, California-based Zone7 told Crunchbase that from the sports side, they have seen a dramatic change from “data is cool” to “we have to do this now.”

The company has recently closed a $8 million Series A investment round led by Blumberg Capital. It has developed an AI-driven platform that analyzes disparate datasets, uncovers patterns and makes proactive recommendations to improve output, detect burnout risk and mitigate injuries.

The company works with teams in a variety of sports and leagues including the NFL, English Premier League, Spain’s La Liga and Italy’s Serie A. Owners looking to protect the millions, if not billions, of dollars they have invested in their players have embraced data and analytics, said Brown.

Brown also pointed to the NBA and teams like the Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks, owned by Mark Cuban, as organizations that have been looking at new and different ways to infuse data into their operations.

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dailysabah

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