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Green transport solution for fans wins innovation accolade

The finalists of the UEFA-backed Reimagine Football initiative presented their sustainability solutions with a Dutch start-up collaboration chosen as the stand-out proposal by European football’s governing body.

A solution which rewards fans for using sustainable transport to stadiums has been named as the leading proposition from the 12 finalists of the Reimagine Football initiative.

The winning submission has been jointly developed by start-ups Fynch Mobility and Social Brothers and analyses how fans travel before encouraging greener transport choices by rewarding supporters who opt to take them. Their proposal was one of 74 that were put forward by companies and start-ups worldwide to meet the challenge of providing smart innovations which make football more sustainable in two key areas: green mobility and circular waste reduction.

The Reimagine Football challenges are overseen by the Football Innovation Platform – a collaboration between UEFA, the KNVB, the Johan Cruijff ArenA, City Football Group and AFC Ajax. UEFA's director of financial sustainability & research Andrea Traverso said: ''The UEFA Innovation Hub has been a partner of the Football Innovation Platform since its creation in 2020. We want to leverage this platform to identify innovative solutions for the benefit of European football."

Over the course of six weeks, the open innovation platform received submissions from 17 countries, with online football experts offering valuable feedback to the applicants during the process. Football Innovation Platform representatives then chose 12 finalists who presented their solutions on 20 January. "We are delighted with the outcome of this start-up challenge on the topic of sustainability as we were able to identify many innovative solutions that can leave a lasting impact both on UEFA's activities and European football as a whole," Traverso said.

The culmination of the start-up challenge follows last month's announcement of a new sustainability strategy by UEFA and the director of football social responsibility at UEFA, Michele Uva, said: "The technology pioneered by Social Brothers and Fynch Mobility enables us to tap into expertise that we and our football stakeholders can benefit from in order to collaborate and invest in football's future sustainability. The winning submission greatly engages fans in UEFA's journey laid out in our Football Sustainability Strategy 2030, which includes a strong focus on climate action and event sustainability through digital solutions enabling green mobility."

Fynch Mobility and Social Brothers said: ''We are delighted to have the opportunity to be part of the UEFA Innovation Hub programme and to potentially develop a solution that aims to have an enormous impact in reducing CO2 emissions for the huge target group of football fans in Europe.''

There were several other compelling proposals from the finalists, with the one from The Waste Transformers receiving special commendation. This solution takes organic waste generated by football stadiums and the surrounding community, converting it into compost, liquid fertiliser and energy. The compost can then be sold to the local community, the energy is used by the stadium and there are ongoing tests to assess whether the fertiliser can be used to help grow the grass on the pitch.

The Waste Transformers will also be able to explore collaboration opportunities with UEFA as part of its innovation hub programme.