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UEFA Start-Up Challenge: It’s Demo Day!

The first ever UEFA Start-Up Challenge reached its climax last Thursday when the seven participating start-ups presented their results to experts at the UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland. Carefully selected during a pitch day in February, the young entrepreneurs have been on a three-month mission to address some of UEFA’s current business needs.

During this adventure, they received coaching on topics of general relevance for start-ups. They were mentored by senior business leaders from UEFA and experts from ThinkSport’s network. The participants also got the opportunity to test and demonstrate products / services in live environments, while also gaining access to potential investors through their participation at THE SPOT.

At last Thursday’s Demo Day, each start-up had the opportunity to showcase their innovative concepts for 10 minutes, followed by a five minutes Q+A session with the audience, which included experts from other international sports federations, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), universities and public authorities. UEFA’s staff had the opportunity to join and engage in the sessions in person, or through a live stream.

Conducted by UEFA in partnership with ThinkSport, the exclusive 12-week accelerator programme targeted early- and growth-stage start-ups with the ambition of having a positive impact on the football industry. The initiative formed part of the soft launch of the new Sport Innovation Hub, jointly created by the Canton of Vaud, the City of Lausanne, ThinkSport, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), UNIL and the Smart Move academic network. The aim of the new Hub is to offer a permanent, strong platform for sport and innovation in the region. 

Philippe Leuba, State Councillor and Head of the Department of Economy, Innovation and Sport (DEIS) of the Canton of Vaud, kicked off this memorable day and said: “We have learned a lot from this first pilot initiative alongside UEFA. Having the ecosystem is excellent but it is not enough though – we need to organise it! This is why the Canton of Vaud through ThinkSport and with the great support of UEFA has decided to create and launch a Sport Innovation Hub.”

Andrea Traverso, Managing Director Financial Sustainability & Research at UEFA said: “We see innovation as a cultural shift. We want to foster a culture of innovation, establish a platform to generate ideas, encourage more cooperation and knowledge sharing - not only among our own staff, but among our stakeholders, other sports federations, think tanks, universities and the private sector. This is an area in which we should not consider ourselves as competitors, but where cooperation can really help in enhancing and shaping the sport in the future. This is why we are happy and proud to be one of the first federations to join the new Sport Innovation Hub. The seven start-ups delivered very valuable and fresh inputs for UEFA and with some of them, we will consider entering into a potential longer term partnership.”

Anna Hellman, Director of ThinkSport, said during the Demo Day: “The spirit, dynamics and outcomes of the UEFA Start-Up Challenge have been a fantastic experience and a signal that we are on the right track with our project of a new Sport Innovation Hub. It’s about fostering cross-sector collaboration within our unique ecosystem and thereby driving progress in sport. Projects like the UEFA Start-Up Challenge showcase how this approach can take shape in reality and has sparked interest by other sports federations.”  

Thomas de Pariente, Director of Strategy at My Coach Sport, one of the participating start-ups and specialised in conceiving and developing digital tools to ease and improve sports practices of organisations and athletes, said during today’s presentation: “The UEFA Start-Up Challenge was not only a fantastic opportunity to immerse yourself in a multi-cultural context, but also it gave us the opportunity to challenge ourselves in accelerating our own ideas. From well-expressed expectations, we were capable to deliver within a three-month period an app fully adapted to the UEFA needs.”

Click here for the full list of the seven participating start-ups.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact:
Kevin Gabrielli
+41 79 576 26 59