Game-changers: Irish companies transforming the sports industry for fans and players (video)

6 May 2014

Clockwise from the top: Dr Brian Moore, managing director, Orreco; David Johnson, COO and co-founder, Tapastreet; Mike Sikorski, founder and CEO, Huggity

At the Enterprise Ireland Sports Marketing and Player Performance Conference in Croke Park Stadium in Dublin, we interviewed a selection of Irish companies working at the convergence of sport, science and technology.

Both GAA and rugby fans may already be familiar with Huggity, having starred in its FanPics in both Croke Park and the Aviva Stadium, also in Dublin. Founder and CEO Mike Sikorski said this kind of engagement extends the period of interaction between fans, teams and sponsors.

“The birth of social media is what gave fans a vote; what gave clubs, venues and organisations a way to have a conversation with fans. But it also gave us a way to amplify the experience that fans have,” he said.

As sporting institutions tend to come with a ready-made base of passionate, vocal and united supporters, getting these communities to engage online is a natural progression. According to David Johnson, COO and co-founder of Tapastreet, about 5pc of fans at a sports event will share content through various social media channels.

Technology can also be used to help improve and build local teams and clubs, as Niall McEvoy, CEO of Teamer, explained: “Every team already exists offline, so we’re not trying to change the way sport happens, but we’re certainly changing the way sport is organised.”

This spirit of evolution and making the traditional digital is echoed in the work of Fantom, maker of online trading cards. Surprisingly, this rich-media take on the old-school sticker book is attracting fans aged 18 to 24 more than any other age group, according to Oran Bambrick, SVP of business development.

Then there’s also the application of technology to track player performance. Working in this space is Orreco, which creates biomarkers for world-class athletes.

“In the world of elite sport, there’s a very small margin between defeat and victory,” said managing director Dr Brian Moore, highlighting the killer advantage that can be provided by the application of analytics.

Elaine Burke is the editor of Silicon Republic