Sports Innovation Award
1. Big Stadium Hockey – England Hockey
Following the interest in hockey demonstrated at the London 2012 Olympics, and subsequent hosting of world event’s, England Hockey (EH) were keen to capitalise on this exposure, energy and excitement to revolutionise the way we bring world class hockey to our current audience and the wider British public.
The new international FIH Pro League provides the fixtures, but the schedule limits England Hockey’s ability to install significant additional seating at their usual venue. The only way to enable big stadium hockey was to utilise an existing fit for purpose stadium, and install our own pitch for the event.
In order to access a suitable rugby/football stadium during their season, England Hockey had to pioneer a game changing, reusable temporary pitch technology enabling an international standard playing surface to be installed and removed in the space of a few days, critically without damaging the surface underneath.
Partnering with Harlequins to host the final FIH Pro League fixtures at the Twickenham Stoop stadium, England Hockey welcomed a record attendance of 12,039 fan and ran 8 community events with 465 participants.
Hailed an amazing success, spectators relished in the atmosphere. Big Stadium Hockey is now available to be used in any stadium…globally.
2. Eleven Sports
Broadcaster ELEVEN SPORTS has created an all-new feature for its over the top (OTT) platform called Watch Together.
The tool enables ELEVEN subscribers to watch live sporting events in the same ‘virtual room’ together, allowing them to share all the excitement and emotions of a matchday.
Fans can set-up private rooms for friends and family or public rooms that anyone can join (e.g ‘Messi Appreciation’ or ‘Sevilla Supporters’). Fans can also join ‘VIP’ rooms to enjoy matches alongside stars from sport and entertainment.
Watch Together was first launched in the UK and Ireland in December 2018 to enhance ELEVEN’s 2018/19 La Liga coverage. It was rolled out to fans in Portugal and Belgium later in 2018/19 and is now available in these markets for UEFA Champions League, Bundesliga, La Liga and much more.
Watch Together is an industry first. There was no equivalent or similar service on any sports OTT platform at the time of launch.
3. Extreme E
A first of its kind, Extreme E is a brand new sport, the first to be created in response to the global climate crisis.
This innovative new series will see electric SUVs compete in remote environments which have already been damaged or affected by climate issues. The aim is to use the power and influence of sport to highlight the impact of climate change and promote the adoption of electric vehicles to help protect the planet.
Race locations include Greenland, the Amazon, the Saudi Arabian Desert, the Nepalese Himalayas, and the coast of Senegal, where issues include deforestation, rising sea levels, melting glaciers, desertification, and more. The series will also work alongside leading scientists and local experts to implement positive legacy initiatives dependent on local needs.
A former Royal Mail cargo-passenger ship will be used to transport the championship’s freight and infrastructure, including vehicles, reducing Extreme E’s carbon footprint as well as being used to facilitate scientific research through an on-board laboratory.
4. Pixellot AI-Automation – Pixellot
Pixellot offers automated sports production solutions that provide affordable alternatives to traditional video capture, production, and distribution systems for professional and semi-professional sports events. Founded in 2013, Pixellot’s AI technology solution streamlines production workflow by creating a stitched panoramic image of the entire playing surface. Advanced algorithms enable automated coverage of the flow of play, generate highlights and add graphics and ads. Pixellot systems are deployed by broadcasters, production companies, clubs, federations, universities, high schools, sports portals, and coaching solution providers around the globe.
5,000 Pixellot systems have been sold to production companies, sports portals, sports federations, leagues, clubs, venues and coaching solution providers around the world, including the US, China, Germany, Spain, Netherlands, France, UK, Japan, Singapore, Mexico, and other markets.
To date, Pixellot broadcast 2,168 live games in one day – 1,159 of them simultaneously! In January 2020, over 90,000 hours of sports were broadcast over Pixellot platforms!
PlayerMaker is a next-generation player development and coaching enhancement solution with an innovative footwear sensor that uniquely provides technical, tactical and physical performance insights. PlayerMaker uses machine learning algorithms to analyze both player and team performance, with results that are superior to anything else available. Our intuitive device monitors gait tracking and classifies each foot and ball interaction with every touch. Across our team of experts, PlayerMaker has invested over 4 years of data collection and development in order to create the perfect algorithms. The PlayerMaker device has been refined by collecting and training algorithms over 416,000 events, spanning more than 1 5 million running meters PlayerMaker’s physical parameters, like a player’s velocity profile, were proven to be very accurate We are working with football clubs and academies at all levels around the world with our investor being former Arsenal Manager, Arsène Wenger.
6. Prospect Digital & FAW Trust
The FAW Trust is charged with growing and sustaining the games needs many leaders, teachers and coaches. We continue to invest in our world-class national football coach education programme and engage our community of professional and volunteer coaches to grow the game and raise standards from grassroots to international football. We have invested in making our coach education training courses more accessible, more engaging and now with online modules reducing the time it takes to become a coach our coaches are more inspired. We engaged and collaborated with a digital education training specialist Prospect Digital to help us deliver to our customers, our coaches, a sustainable and positive impact in growing the game of football in Wales.
We saw the need to develop learning materials that met full learning objectives that could be accessed 24/7 anywhere in the world. Access to training & development, qualifications and ongoing CPD is an issue across the world.
We have now developed an innovative, bespoke and unique Coach Education Management System and delivery model that has transformed how FAW CoachEd delivers its core training. In fact, this innovation has ensured its sustainability, not only within FAW but across a range of Sports.
7. Premiership Rugby/Hawk-Eye Innovations
The introduction of real-time video technology has led to a 30% increase in players undergoing head injury assessments (HIAs) in Premiership Rugby. The Hawk-Eye system offers a world-leading solution in this space. The system has been described by clubs as ‘revelatory’, providing an ‘essential tool for in-play player safety’.
In recent years the increased focus on the issue of concussion in rugby union and the need for improved recognition systems has shone a light on the huge benefits the Hawk-Eye system delivers in providing cutting edge real-time concussion surveillance technology, demonstrated by the fact that it was selected by World Rugby as the official provider of video replay technology at both the 2015 and 2019 Rugby World Cups. Regarded by club medical teams as ‘priceless’, this initiative highlights Hawk-Eye and Premiership Rugby’s commitment to achieving the highest standard of player care in its fixtures.
8. The NFL Academy – NFL
In partnership Barnet & Southgate College, the NFL Academy launched in 2019. It is an innovative, global initiative with meaningful local UK relevance. The programme gives aspiring young American football players and outstanding athletes between the age of 16-19 the chance to develop their skills through elite coaching, life skills and character development sessions whilst studying courses of their choice. The NFL Academy is a life changing opportunity not only impacting the lives of the students but, reaching further afield through community programmes, social engagement, media outreach and partnership opportunities. It is an innovative programme aiming for 100% pathways for all students – not just to US colleges but further education and employment in the UK, whilst inspiring the next generation. The NFL Academy has already seen outstanding results through student engagement, fitness levels and overall attitude towards the programme from student-athletes, the community and media coverage. When asked ‘How would you describe the NFL Academy?’ a student answered, “An opportunity to better yourself and make something of your life”