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Innovation takes to the pitch

Football Development Innovation

A total of 18 start-ups were in attendance at UEFA HQ for the first ever 'pitch day', with the hope of securing a place on a new innovation programme.

Innovation takes to the pitch
Innovation takes to the pitch ©UEFA.com

The pace of change in football is relentless. Changes in technology, lifestyle and viewing habits are radically altering the way we experience, consume and even play the beautiful game. Failure to keep up with these changes means being left behind.

UEFA, naturally, is determined to be at the forefront of such changes and so to stay ahead of the game. Therefore the European football governing body is eager to tap into the amazing wealth of innovation and ideas that exist in thousands of start-ups and small businesses around the world, in addition to its own great work being done internally.

See UEFA's Innovation Programme previewed here

That was the guiding philosophy behind the first-ever 'pitch day' held at UEFA HQ in Nyon, Switzerland, on 12 February. A total of 18 start-ups were given three minutes each to impress a panel of senior UEFA leaders and industry experts, with a place on a 12-week UEFA 'Innovation Programme' the prize for the successful pitchers. The new programme offers mentoring and the chance to test products in a live environment.

The 18 hopefuls were pitching in seven categories: Fan Engagement, entertainment and big data; Protecting the game; Performance, match analysis and sports technology; Leveraging UEFA's community of members; Smart facilities and venue operations; Social impact and 'wildcard'.

Participants in the inaugural pitch event at UEFA
Participants in the inaugural pitch event at UEFA©UEFA.com

After a day's intense pitching, it fell to the judges to decide which companies should be taken into the programme. A total of seven were chosen.

Second Spectrum – a state-of-the-art optical tracking and analytics platform
Signality – a fully automated tracking data solution
Snaptivity – which uses AI to capture live fan moments
WSC Sports – an AI-based platform that generates customised sports highlights at scale for digital platforms
Formalytics – pioneering ball tracking and analysis on a mobile phone
LiveLike – an interactive chat functionality that integrates into OTT platforms
My Coach Sport – a digital assistant for football coaches

UEFA managing director of financial sustainability and research, Andrea Traverso, acting as one of the judges, said: "This was the first time we've tried anything like this, and we couldn't have been happier with the outcome. The presentations were first class, despite being given only three minutes to make their mark. It's a great first step in this innovation journey and we can't wait to see how the seven selected start-ups apply their enthusiasm, ideas and innovations to UEFA, and how in turn we help them grow."

The Pitch Day is the first of many planned events and initiatives from the newly-created UEFA innovation Hub.