New Limerick operation will combine passion for sports with advances in AI and machine learning.
Chicago-headquartered sports analytics company STATS (Sports Team Analysis and Tracking Systems) is on track to employ 150 full-time and part-time staff by 2020 at its new offices, which opened yesterday (11 June) in Limerick.
The new offices are at Riverstone House in Henry Street where analysts and researchers will provide sports fans and professionals with on-the-button, immediate insight on gameplay from more than 45 different sports, including the upcoming FIFA World Cup matches.
‘I like to think of sports data as one of the most challenging and interesting areas in machine learning’
– PATRICK LUCEY
Limerick was a natural choice for the company as it allows it to tap into collaborative education partnerships with a range of local third-level institutions, while offering access to the ever-expanding technology and science cluster that is transforming Ireland’s mid-west.
On the ball
STATS brought on Irish sports technology pioneer Gráinne Barry to run the new Limerick office as European, Middle Eastern and African (EMEA) regional operations director.
“Over the past eight months, Gráinne and her team have done an exceptional job getting our production and staff up and running in Limerick,” said Carl Mergele, CEO of STATS.
“STATS is committed to driving innovation in team performance, fan experience and live sports data, and our new EMEA headquarters in Limerick is ideally suited for this. We are thrilled to officially add Limerick to our global footprint, and build a Limerick team that is as passionate about sports and innovation as we are.”
STATS recruitment has already begun and aims to place up to 100 full-time and part-time staff for its Limerick operation by the end of this year alone.
Speaking with Siliconrepublic.com, the director of artificial intelligence (AI) at STATS, Patrick Lucey, whose mother happens to hail from Limerick, said the operation combines passion for sports with a passion for data.
“Part of its function will be operations, collecting data and also siphoning through it. But another big aspect is understanding it, doing the research and understanding this data, and eventually our aim is to have part of the AI team based in Limerick to leverage all the understanding that we have, especially given the strong DNA in rugby and football in Limerick – it makes sense that we have some aspects of it there.
“Sports is a very powerful vehicle to understand abstract things. What we are particularly good at in STATS is AI and in particular machine learning, and what we are particularly after are top developers who have an understanding and a passion for sport but also a passion for technology.
“We are really looking forward to people with that skillset because sports is one of those rare areas where people really like it and [are] passionate about it but there’s a very strong technical element to it. I like to think of sports data as one of the most challenging and interesting areas in machine learning,” said Lucey.
IDA Ireland executive director Mary Buckley congratulated the company on the move to new permanent offices in Limerick.
“Your arrival last October was widely welcomed. I’m pleased to see the great progress made since, including collaboration with LIT and UL. Limerick and the mid-west region is so vibrant right now and that energy, combined with its rich sporting tradition and growing technology and life science clusters, make it an ideal location for STATS to grow.”
Updated, 10.27am, 12 June 2018: This article was updated to correctly attribute a quote to Patrick Lucey, who was mistakenly referred to as Ian Lucey.