Back Of The Net: Can Dublin's Sport Tech Property Market Grow?
Ireland will not be represented at this month's World Cup in Russia — you can blame the Danes for that — but it could win a much more lucrative race to become Europe's sports tech capital.
Can sports tech — which ranges from wearable Fitbits, via the Internet of Things, to sneaker design — really become a force in the Dublin office market? With the IDA leading a push to win more sports tech business, Bisnow takes a look at the evidence.
Yet amidst the proliferating tech revolutions — fintech, medtech, PropTech — sport tech may have escaped attention. Trapped in the foggy zone between leisure, health and the digital age, it has yet to make much noise outside a handful of university departments of sports medicine.
Today many sports businesses are expanding into tech, like Boylesports new mobile app. According to new information from the IDA as they launch a push to win more sports tech, the sector is potentially big business for Ireland — and could be a lot bigger.
Sensors around the 82,000-seat stadium and its entrances collect data which is stored on the Microsoft Azure IoT platform. The result is so-called actionable insight that can help improve safety, the fan experience and cost-effectiveness. Noise levels can be cut, the pitch improved (by working out where to use heat lamps to spur grass growth) and crowd safety optimised.
The sports tech sector is nationwide — but with an increasing Dublin focus. Dublin-founded but Newry-based Statsports is making waves — and lots of money — with its wearable Apex device, a shoulder patch that captures data about running speed and effectiveness. The latest big contract win, signed in March, saw a €1.14B deal with the U.S. Soccer Federation.
Meanwhile in Limerick, SportsTechIreland is already at work building a business eco-system to support new international arrivals as well as home-grown businesses. Their interests range through the full range of sports tech options from data analysis and performance improvement tools, through to sports e-commerce, fan engagement, wearable tech and the Internet of Things.
In Dublin the leading names including Kitman have signed deals with the Australian rugby authorities and have been garnering awards with an Athlete Optimization System which helps coaches and teams to drive performance.
“We have more sports and data scientists than anyone else in the industry who boast real world experience in a wide range of sports," Kitman Labs CEO Stephen Smith said.
The firm's floorspace needs are as yet modest: they occupy part of the 26K SF Block B at Joyce's Court acquired earlier this year by French-based Corum Asset Management for €14M.
Sports tech is increasingly a part of the more traditional tech startup scene. New businesses tipped for growth include Dublin-based PhysioLinked — which makes it easier for physiotherapists to find their clients and vice versa — and trainer design gurus, Dublin-based Think Biosolution. They have developed QuasaR, a wearable personal wellness trainer that helps users to manage their obesity, stress, heart and respiratory conditions by suggesting optimal exercise routines and duration.
Also worth watching are Sandyford-based ClubApp, who provide scoring apps, Dundalk-based Playertek, Dublin Docklands-based fan-generated content business Crowdsight, supported by Enterprise Ireland and the Dublin Institute of Technology's Hothouse innovation centre.
"We may be offering different solutions, but it feels like there is a great hub forming with a good energy around us all,” is how Sean O’Connor, co-founder of Statsports, described it to Kitman's website.