1. What is the journey for UEFA’s open innovation scheme?
- Apply online: Complete the short online application form found here
- Application review: Application reviewed in line with UEFA’s strategy and business priorities. More details on the assessment criteria can be found below in the FAQ.
- Initial discussion: Innovation hub and relevant UEFA business unit to arrange initial discussion with successful applicants.
- Acceleration programme: Collaboration with your organisation, providing access to live UEFA events, insights and data to test your proposition(s), typically over a 3–6 month period.
- Partnership assessment: Acceleration phase reviewed to determine any future partnership.
2. What supporting material do I need to provide?
In order for UEFA to complete the necessary due diligence on your application, please include a presentation when prompted on the application form that includes (where applicable):
- 1. Product/service pitch
- 2. Business model
- 3. Team CV
- 4. Current traction (user number information, sales references, letters of intent, etc.)
- 5. Any references (particularly from within the sports industry)
Please note that this information will be used for assessment, and failure to provide any of the key material listed may result in your application being rejected.
3. What are your assessment criteria?
Our assessment criteria are based on six key pillars: strategic fit, product/service fit for UEFA, competitive advantage, your team, feasibility of partnership and sustainability. Each criterion is explained in more detail below:
The purpose of this criterion is for UEFA to ensure that your proposed product/service would contribute to the UEFA’s strategic goals as outlined in UEFA’s strategy 2019–24. Therefore, please ensure you read the ‘specific policies’ of the strategy, which can be found here, and that you complete the drop-down sections on the application form which align your product/service with these policies.
Product/service fit for UEFA
The purpose of this criterion is for UEFA to understand how your proposed product/service would provide value to UEFA. The following questions will be considered when assessing your application:
- Business problem solution: Is the technology/solution clear and does it solve a real business problem/need?
- Value: Will your product/service either drive revenue or lower costs?
- Innovation: What is unique about this product/service; is it truly innovative?
- Long-term fit: Would there be a substantial and lasting fit for this product/service with UEFA?
The purpose of this criterion is for UEFA to understand how your proposed product/service would be unique and differentiated from other competitors. The following questions will be considered when assessing your application:
- Originality: What is your distinctive value/originality? Do you have a unique value proposition relative to competition?
- Intellectual property (IP): Do you have any IP?
- Performance to date: What are the user numbers, current financial performance and other growth indicators?
The purpose of this criterion is for UEFA to understand how your team would function and work in our UEFA environment and what your drive and motivations are. The following questions will be considered when assessing your application:
- Talent: Does your team have the relevant and necessary technical skills to succeed?
- Experience: Does the team have a diverse background, including relevant education/experience, to succeed?
- Adaptability: Does the team have a proven business track record in overcoming challenges?
- Passion: Does the team have a genuine passion and enthusiasm to work in the sports sector?
- Company culture: What are your company values?
The purpose of this criterion is for UEFA to understand whether your proposed product/service would be feasible within the UEFA context and ecosystem. The following questions will be considered when assessing your application:
- Pilot opportunity: Do you have a viable business model with a clear target market and a pilot opportunity?
- Time to implement: How long would it take to integrate your product/solution into UEFA (both pilot and longer term)?
- Financial model: Is your pricing structure feasible for UEFA in the long term?
The purpose of this criterion is for UEFA to understand how your proposed product/service would impact the environment and what would be the social footprint of your activities. The following questions will be considered when assessing your application:
- Keeping waste to minimum: How does your product/solution minimise or avoid additional waste?
- Mitigating climate change: How does your product/solution minimise or avoid CO2 emissions?
- Conserving natural resources: What is your product/solution made of and what resources are needed to produce and operate it?
- Human rights: By whom and where is your product/solution produced?
- Health and safety: Does your product/solution affect human health or human safety in any way?
4. What differentiates UEFA’s acceleration programme and what are its benefits?
Unlike traditional accelerators, the UEFA acceleration programme is not about investment. Since UEFA is a not-for-profit organisation, we will not be looking to make equity investments in your start-up or organisation. Instead, UEFA wants to work with carefully selected start-ups and organisations with interesting products or ideas and combine this with our industry knowledge and expertise in order to drive innovation in the football industry. In this way, our acceleration programme is akin to an incubator and provides the following opportunities:
- Pilot your product with UEFA.
- Test your product/service in a UEFA competition.
- Receive industry insights from football experts at UEFA.
- Work in the heart of the sport innovation hub in Lausanne, Switzerland, with access to leading international sports organisations. This is an inspiring environment, with cutting-edge research, and a large network of dynamic entrepreneurs and academics.
- Receive mentorship from coaches, mentors and experts from various European incubators (leveraging the network of our partner ThinkSport).
- Increasing the profile of your start-up within the football and sporting worlds through this network and additionally through participation in The Spot event organised by ThinkSport.
- Potential opportunity to propose a model for continued cooperation and a future long-term partnership.
5. What is the Sport Innovation Hub?
UEFA is a founding member of the canton of Vaud sport innovation hub in Lausanne, Switzerland. Described as the Silicon Valley of the sports industry, the sport innovation hub combines leading institutions and governing bodies from a wide range of sports in order to combine expertise, networks and knowledge and drive innovation across the sports industry. (Further information on the sport innovation hub can be found here.)
The sport innovation hub can become your second home when embarking on the acceleration programme with UEFA, with reserved seats and dedicated space available for you to work and meet with relevant experts.
6. Who will I receive mentorship from during the acceleration?
During the acceleration programme, start-up partners and organisation will have a dedicated mentor from UEFA as well as access to football experts from across our business. Through our partner ThinkSport and our founding role in the sport innovation hub in Lausanne, successful start-ups will also have access to coaches, mentors, entrepreneurs and subject matter experts from across the sports industry.
7. If successful, where will the acceleration programme take place?
Successful applicants will be based at the sport innovation hub in Lausanne. You will also have meetings and workshops with UEFA staff at our headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland, in addition to remote collaboration from your own offices. Both Nyon and Lausanne are a short train ride from Geneva airport.
8. I don’t live in Switzerland – can I still apply?
Of course – we welcome applications from all over the world. However, we encourage all start-up applicants to consider the logistics and potential costs of their participation in the programme (and any visa requirements). If selected for the acceleration programme, our partner ThinkSport will be able to assist further in this regard.
9. Is there a deadline for my application?
No – since the UEFA innovation hub operates using an open innovation scheme, there is no deadline for applications, which are welcome all year round. From time to time we may run a specific challenge on a particular theme and in this case the application deadline will be clearly stated on the application page.
10. How long will it take for me to hear back from the innovation hub?
We endeavour to respond to all applicants within 2–4 weeks. However, due to the high number of requests, this is not always possible. If you have not heard back from us after 60 days, please assume that your application was unfortunately not successful.
11. Is there a minimum age to apply?
You must be at least 18 years old to apply.
12. Will my application be treated confidentially?
Yes – only the relevant employees of UEFA and our partner ThinkSport will have access to your application information, including any material you submit. This will all be treated confidentially. If UEFA is interested in inviting you to join the acceleration programme, we will create an agreement before the start of the programme.