How Important Is Collaboration Between Clubs And Tech Firms?

We ask the experts


How Important Do You Think Collaboration Between Clubs/Organizations and technology companies is when developing new technology and products?

James Bunce, Head of Sports Science, Premier League

‘From the Premier League’s perspective, we have an amazing relationship with the clubs we work with as an umbrella organization.

I engage with 29 clubs regularly, so we’ve got twenty Premier League clubs and nine academies that sit outside the Premier League and we have many discussions, meetings and innovating meetings where we discuss development projects, the things we could look at doing in bbthe future, how we could collaborate some of the things they are doing at the individual clubs and bring it back to the table in the development role.

There’s been discussions held recently with GPS companies about how we can start to collaborate data from matches to start to build a physical benchmarking of matches. So what under 16’s, 18’s and 21’s physicality of game effort looks like. That’s a discussion that we are having at the moment with the clubs and with the technology companies.

But I think it’s really key. The technology companies need that feedback as well, because these are the guys that are using it on the field, these are the guys that may be having problems and want to have it developed further. It’s really important that the link is there and hopefully as the Premier League is involved, we can have the responsibility of linking different people to improve that kind of aspect.’

James Molyneux, Academy Performance Analyst, London Irish Rugby

‘It is important to have the companies involved when you are developing them [new products]. At the end of the day they are bespoke products. How you use them and how they integrate into your coaching process affects the way you are going to use them as an analyst. By having them there we are going to be able to really narrow down the tools that you need to be able to use analytics.

If you have a lot of organizations involved, in terms of the national governing bodies, you are going to have a good benchmark of what is happening in sport and you are going to be able to compare and know the norms to compare against. So it is certainly beneficial’

Jamie Capel-Davies, Manager, Science & Technical, International Tennis Federation

‘I think it’s vital that all of their stakeholders are involved in the decision making process and collaborative process. Everyone has some sort of role and contribution in terms of that wider programme.

In developing our new rule in tennis, we consulted with various stakeholders as much as possible to get their input and feedback in terms of how we were thinking of introducing the rule and whether it was fit for purpose.

That dialogue is really important’

Jon Roberts, Director, Performance, Rugby Football League

‘Absolutely critical. I think the challenge is very much to get the system to meet the needs of the customer. Rather than here’s the system and you fit the customer into the system. Therefore there has to be strong collaboration or the products will always fall short somehow.

So again I would say we need to identify what the problem is and build the system to solve that and I think increasingly there are those sports that have got millions of pounds

to be able to invest in this type of technology and sports analytics, and there are those that don’t. It is about trying to scale it so they aren’t being priced out of the market for other sports.’

Sam Timmermans, Head of Sports Intelligence Unit, UK Sport

‘It could be a critical factor because sports organizations in general don’t have the know-how and the resources to accelerate the development in technology and data. Teaming up with a technology partner who’s core function is to have that resource and technology, having those innovations and sharing the insight from the sports knowledge about what is important to the sport, and the best practice from technology.

I think that is a critical factor in driving innovation in the area.’

Simon Jones, Head of Performance & Innovation, Team Sky

‘I think it’s important they do collaborate because ultimately sports people know their sports technically. It’s that engagement that you need to know.

Rather than producing the solution that’s looking for a problem, trying to understand what the problems being faced by organizations are, then work back from that.

You need to start at the end and find out what problem people face rather than try to give them a solution to something that they haven’t really got a problem for. So engagement is really important, simply to provide what they want.’

Daniel Tobin, Head of Fitness, Leinster Rugby

‘I think it’s crucial. Sometimes we may get a product that may look good and flashy, may not be fit for purpose for what we would actually like to do with it. The feedback that we can give once we have used the product for 6 or 12 months, to the company, allows them to improve their product and allows them to improve the service to us as well. It’s a win-win and really I don’t see an alternative going forward to having that really tight collaboration between technology partners and the sporting club.’


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