The Australian Sports Technologies Network Showcase and Executive Luncheon

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The Australian Sports Technologies Network (ASTN) held a Showcase and Executive Luncheon event on Friday, the 13th of November, in the Australian Institute of Sports’ (AIS) Arena. The event drew a large crowd to the AIS Arena and featured a large number of innovative sports technologies companies and businesses exhibiting. The event was made possible through the support of the ACT Government, the Australian Government’s Australian Sports Commission (ASC) and PriceWaterhouse Coopers (PwC).

ASTN Logo

The ASTN, an industry led collaborative network, is a young organisation, established three years ago, the organisation currently boasts some two hundred members and predicts that it will comprise three hundred members by the end of the year. Based in Geelong, Victoria, the ASTN has a nationwide reach, encompassing the whole of Australia’s ‘sports ecosystem’. The ASTN has ready connections nationally with constituent organisations, businesses and companies in the following categories and designations: sports technologies firms, national sporting organisations, sports retailers and marketers, universities, researchers, governments and investors.

The ASTN seeks to develop, connect and inform Australia’s innovative sports companies and businesses, as to augment Australia sports technologies industry. The ASTN achieves this through a dynamic mix of events, programs and initiatives. Aside from the recent Showcase and Executive Luncheon event, the organisation runs advisory and mentorship programs, an accelerator program, an annual pitching competition, an annual conference and a Sports Technologies Entrepreneurship Innovation Forum.

James Demetriou, Chairman, ASTN, makes a compelling argument for ASTN and Australia’s sports technologies industry, in the printed materials distributed at the Showcase event, “In just over 3 years since the establishment of the ASTN we have confirmed the emergence of an industry that Australia should rightly be world leaders in. The commitment of our sponsors across government, sport and the private sector acknowledges the opportunity that we have to develop and support a successful sports technologies industry.”

The argument for Australian dominance in the sports technologies industry is a logical one, one which aligns with Australia’s sports centric culture and national, natural aptitude for most sports. Australia has continually, in terms of our population comparative to those of other countries, managed to hit above its weight in sports internationally. A thriving sports technologies industry would serve to strengthen a pre-existing industry, which aligns with Australia’s ethea, to create more economic opportunities through a logical avenue that capitalises on the exisiting passions and interests of Australians.

The Showcase component of ASTN’s event featured a myriad of innovative businesses and companies in Australia’s sports technologies industry; everything from the expected was exhibited, innovations in sports helmets, to the unexpected, wearable sensors which relay information about muscles and general fitness. The prevalence of these innovative companies and businesses affirmed, via literal demonstration, both the breadth and size of Australia’s sports technologies industry.

Following the initial portion of the Showcase component of the event, the Executive Luncheon began in a partitioned area of the Arena. Within the Arena, a formal dining area and large podium, complete with a large television screen on which those presenting and those leading the formalities were projected via a strategically placed video camera and audio setup, had been constructed. (The following is an abridged summary of the Executive Luncheon portion of the event.) 

Mark Thompson, Sponserve

Mark Thompson, Sponserve, accepts the ACT Government’s Sports Technologies New Innovator’s Award.

Dr Sarah Pearson, CEO, CBR Innovation Network (CBRIN), began the Executive Luncheon by addressing the crowd; aptly placed to comment on innovation, Dr Pearson took note of the broad scope of the innovations in Australia’s sport technologies industry showcased and acknowledged the event’s sponsors, citing positive interactions with all in her own position leading CBRIN. Dr Pearson also acknowledged the presence of the following: ACT Chief Minister, Andrew Barr MLA; Tony Henshaw, Chair CBRIN; the Board members of the ASTN; the innovators showcasing their wares and the Luncheon’s invited guests. Moving on, Dr Pearson spoke of how she has been an advocate of Australia’s sports technologies industry for quite some time previous. Dr Pearson also spoke of how Canberra, with the AIS based in the city, along with a high concentration of tertiary research and education institutions, CBRIN, and a populace who are lead users in sports technologies, forwarded great possibilities to the sports technologies industry.

James Demetriou, Chair, ASTN, then took the stage and spoke at length about the ASTN and Australia’s growing sports technologies industry. Mr Demetriou spoke about how the buzz surrounding innovation was again featuring predominantly nationally, before moving to acknowledge the event’s distinguished guests, including the ACT Chief Minister, the event’s sponsors and everyone in attendance. Mr Demetriou spoke of the ASTN’s sponsorship by the ASC and the ACT Government, and the possibilities of Australia’s sports technologies industry.

Mr Demetriou told the audience assembled that he had no doubts that Australia could continue to grow its sports technologies industry and that the emergence of similar companies to those in Australia overseas showed the worth of the innovations developed by the Australian companies and businesses. In speaking on the mindset necessary to achieve the goals of the ASTN and Australia’s entrepreneurial and innovative companies and businesses in the sports technologies industry, Mr Demetriou made mention of the ASTN mantra, the apt, “Born global, die locally.” Mr Demetriou then detailed the size of the global sports technologies industry, some six hundred billion dollars, as of the 31st of December, 2014.

Mick Spencer, ONTHEGO Sports

Mick Spencer, ONTHEGO Sports, accepts the ACT Government’s Sports Technologies Business Excellence Award.

Mr Demetriou spoke of how the day’s event allowed those in attendance a snapshot of Australia’s sports technologies industry and how the ASTN hopes Australia can capitalise on its reputation as a great sporting nation. Continuing to speak on the ASTN, Mr Demetriou detailed the organisation’s activities, including the provision of seed funding and programs. Mr Demetriou also spoke of the challenge in converting expertise into saleable industries and products in the sports technologies industry. Mr Demetriou then detailed a selection of relevant companies, and thanked those who made the event possible, including both sponsors and the key people who dedicated their time and effort to organising the event.

Simon Hollingsworth, CEO, Australian Sports Commission (ASC), then took the stage and began his address by speaking of the Socceroos recent win in a game held in Canberra the previous evening, before acknowledging the presence of both the ACT Chief Minister, and retired Senator Kate Lundy, now a Board Member of ASTN (ACT Node). Mr Hollingsworth touched on a variety of topics, including: attracting attention to Australia’s sports technologies industries; Australia’s competitive advantage in sports in comparison to population size; the influence of government in the industry; ASC’s partnership with ASTN and the aims of the partnership; investment in the sports technologies industry and the activities of the ASC.

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Following Mr Hollingsworth’s address to those in attendance, Dr Pearson then took the stage once more and introduced the crowd to a neologism or term she had recently coined ‘collabcomp’, before introducing the ACT Chief Minister, Andrew Barr MLA. The ACT Chief Minister took the stage and began his address to the event’s attendees by acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land, the Ngunnawal people. In speaking on Canberra’s emerging innovative culture, Mr Barr MLA told the audience that Canberra is Australia’s knowledge capital and went on to detail Canberra’s unique characteristics, including the high density of tertiary research and education institutions and the presence of CBRIN, before continuing on to speak on Canberra’s sports technologies industry in particular. Mr Barr MLA told the audience that Canberra is the home of women’s sports, and that the city has previously demonstrated that it has the capacity to host both international and national sporting events. The ACT Chief Minister went on to detail how the populace of Canberra enjoy and are committed to sporting endeavours and how it should come as no surprise that they’re the longest living, fittest and happiest in Australia’s population.

The ACT Chief Minister detailed the ACT Government’s commitment to unlocking the potential of Canberra’s sports technologies industry and the Government’s commitment to utilising Canberra’s previously detailed unique position to achieve this. “This is the moment, the place, the opportunity,” the ACT Chief Minister told the audience, before then acknowledging the University of Canberra’s leadership in sports technologies, and telling the audience how he is excited to see the brilliant ideas that will emerge from local companies and businesses.

Following the ACT Chief Minister’s address, Dr Pearson took the stage once more and spoke of her recent trip abroad on a trade mission in which she accompanied the Hon Wyatt Roy MP, Assistant Minister, Innovation, and others to Israel to view the Israeli innovation ecosystem and to establish and solidify connections. Following Dr Pearson’s address, James Pearce, Senior Associate, Populous, took to the stage to speak about the company’s designing and development of public spaces, in particular sporting stadiums and arenas. Mr Pearce spoke about Populous’ awareness of the impact of changing trends in information technologies mediums on sports and the company’s actions and plans to stay ahead of the curb. Mr Pearce spoke of how Populous is repurposing underutilised space in traditional sporting venues to realise the full potential of the venues.

Following Mr Pearce’s address to those in attendance, Dr Pearson then introduced Cade Brown, Director, PwC, who spoke of the company’s association and partnership with ASTN, the ACT Government and AIS. Following Mr Brown address, a panel section of the event was introduced and detailed, in which the following participated: Glen McGoldrick, CEO, Sport Technology Group; Dr Markus Deutsch, CEO, Fusion Sport and Mick Spencer, Founder & Managing Director, ONTHEGO Sports. The panel portion of the event covered a wide range of topics, including the participants’ observations as to key trends in Australia’s sports technologies industry and their own recent activities.

Following the conclusion of the panel portion of the Executive Luncheon, Dr Pearson took the stage again, and thanked all those in attendance for coming and moved to introduce the awards component of the Luncheon.

The following awards were given to the respective winners:

  • First and second place awards for ASTN’s pitching competition, ten and five-thousand-dollar respective cash prizes. Winners: Dusty Dynamics and Runners Up: Rosterfy.
  • The ACT Government’s Sports Technologies Business Excellence Award, a five-thousand-dollar cash prize. Winner: ONTHEGO Sports.
  • The ACT Government’s Sports Technologies New Innovator’s Award, a five-thousand-dollar cash prize. Winner: Sponserve.

Following the award’s portion of the event, thanks were once more given to the key individuals who made the event possible, before those wishing to tour the AIS’s facilities were given directions as to where to congregate. The Showcase component of the event continued past the conclusion of the Executive Luncheon, with exhibitors continuing to showcase their wares and to engage those in attendance.

More information about the Australian Sports Technologies Network (ASTN) can be found via their website.

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