Sony invests in Dublin sports intelligence firm Kitman Labs

28 Feb 2020746 Views

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The investment into Kitman Labs, which is reportedly worth nearly €500,000, marks the Sony Innovation Fund’s first investment into sports technology.

Irish-led sports intelligence start-up Kitman Labs has secured investment from the Sony Innovation Fund, which is the venture arm of Japanese multinational Sony.

Financial details of the funding were not revealed but, according to the Irish Times, this investment is worth almost €500,000. Kitman Labs, which has offices in Dublin and Silicon Valley, was founded by Stephen Smith and Iarfhlaith Kelly in 2012.

To date, the business has raised more than $20m, from investors including Blue Run Ventures, Comvest Partners senior investor Peter Kight, former Ireland rugby captain Jamie Heaslip and Enterprise Ireland.

In a statement, the Sony Innovation Fund said its investment in Kitman Labs caps an overall raise and addition of world-class strategic investors over the last 12 months, “which will fuel the company’s growth and road map”.

The performance analytics technology developed by Kitman Labs has been used by more than 150 sports teams across the NFL, NHL, English Premier League, Bundesliga, Premiership Rugby and the Chinese Super League.

Embracing the spirit of innovation

Gen Tsuchikawa, chief investment officer at Sony Innovation Fund, said: “Kitman Labs is at the nexus of artificial intelligence, sports science and human performance. Their unique approach to technology and the customer experience has set a new standard in the elite, college and youth sports markets.

“We love to work with companies that embrace the spirit of innovation, and are thrilled that this investment marks our entrance into the dynamic field of sports tech. We look forward to supporting Kitman during their next phase of growth.”

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The news comes shortly after Kitman Labs announced that it aims to double its employee base from 44 to 88 over the next 12 months, with the majority of this growth taking place at the company’s innovation centre in Dublin.

At the time, Heather Humphreys, TD, commented: “Successful indigenous businesses and thriving entrepreneurship are at the heart of the Irish economy.

“We welcome and support the growth plans of companies like Kitman Labs to continue to bring high-value jobs to our economy, as well as to enhance Ireland’s well-earned reputation as an outstanding home to innovative technology companies.”

Growth and innovation plans

Commenting on the funding from Sony, Kitman Labs CEO Smith said that the firm has “growth and innovation plans” for 2020, and highlighted its acquisition of Wigan-based athlete data management company The Sports Office at the end of January.

At the time, Kitman Labs said that the deal would help “deliver innovations more rapidly to address the new, fast-changing needs caused by the skyrocketing growth of performance and medical data”.

Looking ahead, Smith said: “2019 was an exceptional year for us on all fronts and we are ready to kick off our 2020 growth and innovation plans with the acquisition of The Sports Office and what is now the most powerful network of elite sports and youth development teams.

“As an industry, we are just now scratching the surface of what analytics combined with real-time decision making tools can uncover to maximise human performance. With a partner like Sony and their portfolio of amazing technology companies, we can execute our vision even more rapidly.”

Kelly Earley is a journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

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