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Innovation meets humanity at THE SPOT 2023

The fourth edition of THE SPOT, held in Lausanne (Switzerland) on 8 and 9 May, generated in-depth discussions and lively exchanges on how to use innovation to develop a world of responsible sport. This year, ThinkSport’s international sport and innovation flagship event attracted an energetic crowd of more than 600 delegates, speakers, and exhibitors from sport organisations, major companies, startups, academia, NGOs and public entities. 

Following the opening networking evening at the Olympic Museum on 8 May, ThinkSport President Andrea Traverso kicked off the official programme the following morning at the SwissTech Convention Center, highlighting that “innovation is not just about innovating products, not just about tech, it’s about mindsets, changing culture, and processes.” He encouraged all participants to connect with the other delegates and share ideas to find new solutions to pressing challenges.

Under the horizontal theme of innovation in action for sustainable futures, a line-up of more than 30 world-class speakers from different sectors and industries then offered exclusive insights from different angles during keynote speeches and highly interactive workshop discussions. Tom Waller, Senior Vice President of Innovation at adidas, got the conversation started on the challenge of transformation and finding confidence in what is humanly possible. During his engaging keynote speech, he invited participants to ask themselves three questions: “What does the world need most? What are you most qualified to do? What is humanly possible?”

Lee McEwan, Head of Strategy and Planning at Publicis Sport & Entertainment, got the crowd thinking about mindset, future consumer behaviour and changing business models, also discussed in-depth in one of the workshops. He cautioned about greenwashing with the real challenge at hand being "getting people to actually change, and not just say they will".

The other workshop discussions focused on talents and skills needed in the sports industry to ensure sustainable futures; innovation and best practices in the field of sustainability; and insights in times of uncertainty. Some general key success factors to sustainable business transformation identified during these sessions included a “no fear to fail” mindset; a set of clear values; a human-centric approach to innovation; cross-sector collaboration; strong ownership of processes; scientific frameworks; and measurements. The highlights of each workshop will be featured during the coming weeks on and were captured in cartoon form by Cartoonbase.

Existential, environmental concerns were raised during several talks, which also provided some exclusive insights from the space and aviation industries. Potential solutions were presented during the final pitch session of the Sports for Nature Challenge, powered by Sails of Change. A high-level expert jury crowned three winners in different categories. They are We Play Green (impactful campaigns) for their player programme that inspires and assists football players to help mobilise the football family to support the green shift; Red Knot Racing (innovative infrastructure) for their sustainable infrastructure and sports tourism solution for biodiversity conservation on Mount Kilimanjaro; and dimpora (smart technology) for having developed the first high-performant membranes that are not only PFAs-free but also circular.

This year, THE SPOT was also used as a platform to kick-off new projects and partnerships. ThinkSport and the Centre for Sport and Human Rights sealed a two-year strategic partnership, supported by the Swiss Government, to promote knowledge sharing, invoke creative thinking, and build innovative projects to drive progress in the field of sport and human rights. Earlier this week, UEFA and the European Space Agency (ESA)  announced a new innovative partnership between their two organisations – the first ever between a sport organisation and a space agency – after meeting for the first time at THE SPOT last year.

For THE SPOT 2023, the SwissTech Convention Center was transformed into an open space with a lively atmosphere, where participants were simultaneously exposed to a wide range of engaging content and experiences. In addition to the conference programme, the delegates were able to discover new solutions, products, and services for the sports world in the Market Place. They were also were invited to listen to one-minute sales pitches by delegates about the products or services of their companies during the inaugural “Open Mic” session.

The next edition of THE SPOT will take place in May 2024 in Lausanne, Switzerland.

THE SPOT 2023 was co-organised by ThinkSport, the SwissTech Convention Center, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), the University of Lausanne (UNIL) and the Canton of Vaud, and enjoyed the strong support of several partners, supporters and suppliers.

Photos of the event are available here.

For more information about THE SPOT 2023, visit and follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. Keep the conversation going by using #TheSpot2023.