Entrepreneurs aim to make Limerick a European sports tech hub

21 Jun 2017

From left: Niall O’Callaghan, mid-west regional manager, IDA Ireland; Keith Wood, SportsTech adviser and investor; Len Middleton, professor of entrepreneurship, University of Michigan; Gary Ryan, two-time Olympian and head of UL BEO; with SportsTech founders Emily Ross, Gráinne Barry and Martina Skelly. Image: SportsTech Ireland

Limerick is sporting a passion for tech, and SportsTech Ireland is right behind it.

A new initiative that seeks to develop sports technology research and business growth in Ireland has been set up in Limerick, spearheaded by three local entrepreneurs.

The SportsTech Ireland initiative builds on efforts to create a National Sports Cluster in Limerick and its hinterland, which could create up to 500 jobs.

‘Limerick is at the heart of Ireland’s passion for sport’

SportsTech Ireland is the brainchild of entrepreneurs Martina Skelly of patient-booking platform YellowSchedule, Gráinne Barry of digital health start-up Salaso, and Emily Ross of specialist PR firm Ink and Vine.

Team effort

The initiative aims to be a bridge between commercial bodies, start-ups, entrepreneurs, research facilities and VCs, and has partnered with a number of international organisations to help position Ireland as a global destination for sports tech companies.

“Sports technology is a fast-moving vertical with massive evolutions in everything from wearables, to player analytics, to sports performance measurement,” Skelly explained.

“Our research indicates that the market will be worth over $113bn by 2021. Ireland is perfectly positioned to be a gateway for sports tech companies in the US, and to drive growth – both indigenous and from abroad – through the creation of a strong support network on the ground.”

The not-for-profit initiative is committed to doubling the number of sports tech companies operating in Ireland by 2020, through mentoring and commercialisation programmes, the promotion of research and the positioning of a landing zone, with a dedicated performance lab for organisations looking to locate in the country.

Ross said: “We’ve been working hard over the past year connecting the dots.

“That means reaching out to athletes, coaches, educators, innovators and entrepreneurs to build a network that supports the sharing of ideas, experience and research. Sports tech hubs in Tel Aviv, Paris and Berlin are leading the way and, with their help, we are taking what works to create the best possible ecosystem here in Ireland.”

Barry added that Limerick is the ideal home for SportsTech Ireland.

“Limerick is at the heart of Ireland’s passion for sport. Not only that, a world-class university and sporting campus, access to the airport, competitive costs, and a wealth of space all combine to make Limerick one of the most attractive cities in Europe to do business.

“With over 40 such companies already in Ireland, the opportunity existed to bring them together for collaboration and a network effect.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years