Canada’s Year of Sport just got bigger. Ryerson and Rogers have embarked on a quest to find the “Next Big Idea in Sport” through an innovation competition for startups leveraging emerging tech in sport. The competition will provide up to 10 startups with four months of incubation at Ryerson’s DMZ, along with cash prizing totaling $100,000, and is just the first step in establishing a new entrepreneurial hub for sport innovation in Canada.
The contest echoes how the proliferation of smartphones, sensors, connectivity, and data is changing the world of sports. The competition encourages Canadian startups to explore innovative ways to advance sports from analytics and business management to performance technologies and fan experiences. “We are in the midst of a performance revolution in sports that is being driven by technology, big data and analytics,” said Sheldon Levy, President and Vice Chancellor of Ryerson University. “Thanks to Rogers, this competition will give young startups an outstanding opportunity to work with emerging and innovative technologies to generate creative solutions for the sports industry.”
“We are in the midst of a performance revolution in sports that is being driven by technology, big data and analytics.”
The sports innovation announcement comes at a key time in Canadian sports history. This year Canada will host over 120 national and international sports competitions. This, of course, includes the Pan Am and Parapan American Games which will take place in Toronto this July, which will be the largest multi-sports competition held in Canada.
Ryerson-Rogers have assembled some heavy hitters to come on board as judges, advisors, and mentors for the competition including the Canadian Football League’s 12th Commissioner, Mark Cohon, and senior leaders from NBCSports.com, MLSE, Tennis Canada, and the Olympic and Paralympic Committee. Among the mentors are three student champions who were former Olympic athletes. One of these champions is Greg Douglas, a sailing athlete who competed in the 2012 London Olympic Games. For Douglas, sports technology can be a deciding factor in winning the game. “The sport space is always changing. New technology is always coming out and a lot of other countries are advancing in this space so having something in Toronto like this is huge,” Douglas told BetaKit. “By fusing the athletes and startups together we can build products that bring Canadian sport to the forefront and these innovations will make Canadian athletes better.”
Rogers Chief Brand Officer, Dale Hooper, echoes the necessity of technology as a competitive advantage. “The world of sports has become so competitive that every advantage matters, and that’s why so many teams are turning to technological and analytical innovations to gain that competitive edge. Hopefully, some of that can be revolutionized by the ideas generated in this contest.”
“The world of sports has become so competitive that every advantage matters, and that’s why so many teams are turning to technological and analytical innovations to gain that competitive edge.”
The Next Big Idea contest is only the beginning of Ryerson’s commitment towards sports innovation. “This competition is the first step toward our vision of creating a new entrepreneurial hub focused on sport at Ryerson,” said Cheri Bradish, Loretta Rogers Research Chair in Sport Marketing at the Ted Rogers School of Management. “Through this initiative, we will build a community of students and entrepreneurs who are building innovative businesses that address this important sector.”
Applications for the Next Big Idea in Sport competitions are due in by May 1 of this year. Up to ten startups will be selected to be incubated at the DMZ in Toronto with the top three finalists awarded $50,000, $30,000 and $20,000 respectively.