Future of Sport Lab, MLSE and Ryerson University Sports Tech Startup Cohorts

Six sports tech startups workshopped their innovations across Ryerson University and MLSE teams and venues

Ryerson University and Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment incubated six inaugural sports tech startups within the Future of Sport Lab (FSL) ecosystem.  The startup businesses then pitched their technology and business plans to more than 100 eager business leaders in the space from across Canada at the Mattamy Centre in Toronto, Ontario. The Sports Techie community blog chatted with Dr. Cheri Bradish, Director of Future of Sport Lab, about the immersive programming each startup received. Included is a partnership with the Ted Rogers School of Business, mentorship within the FSL network of professionals and academics, as well as access to investors and leading academies. These sports technology innovations were also piloted with MLSE teams and venues. Why reinvent the wheel when you can partner with this unique sports tech accelerator, one of the first of its kind anywhere on the planet, and upgrade the wheel development process or your vision with the support of experts, networking and investment as offered by the FSL to these first cohorts.


Canadian Sport Innovation Focus

Incubators are everywhere. Not all startups go down this path. Some make it on their own; others go the venture capital route and many simply straight up fail. The exploding sports tech industry is no different. The rapidly changing landscape is right where FSL is positioned to make it so for their first cohorts and beyond beginning back in 2015, says Bradish. She added, “FSL looked at comparatives in the marketplace and were purposeful to be the leader in sports innovation.”

The juice to this innovative concept is Ryerson and MLSE are going about it differently compared to a pure business accelerator. The resources available via FSL to company founders and management teams also include links to sport industry research, data-driven insights, and sport business education (including the new MBA Specialization in Sport Business), housed in the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson.

“We have been overwhelmed by the level of engagement for our first cohort. Not only an incredible commitment from our six startups, but also from our network of mentors, academics and all divisions at MLSE. The bigger sport tech community in Canada and abroad, have rallied around the lab and have helped to pave a foundation for continued innovation,” said Dr. Bradish.

Cheri is also the Loretta Rogers Research Chair in Sport Marketing at Ryerson University. She did her post-graduate work at Florida State University. We are connected on LinkedIn making our chat less informal and more about the community aspect of this rain making pilot program.

Sports Tech Sportsbiz

According to Humza Teherany. Chief Technology & Digital Officer, MLSE, “Through the Future of Sport Lab and the commitment from our partners at Ryerson, the six companies in our first cohort were able to apply their innovative technology across our sports brands. We hope today’s event inspires the next round of FSL applicants and create more extraordinary experiences for their customers and our fans.”

●     Rival.ai (Toronto, ON) – Raptors Uprising GC, Toronto’s NBA 2K team, used Rival.ai’s artificial intelligence platform to create in-depth scouting reports on league opponents.

●     SkillShark (Saskatoon, SK) – Toronto FC Academy piloted Skill Shark’s athlete evaluations platform across one of their development teams. The technology was used to assess player performance and deliver analytic feedback to players.

●     Spalk (New York, NY) – Raptors 905 leveraged Spalk’s virtual sportscasting studio to create a unique broadcast experience remotely delivering French commentary on a live game broadcast. 

●     Stakes (New York, NY) – A free-to-play application of the real-time sports gaming software, which powers predictive trivia between fans, was integrated into the Toronto Raptors app and allowed hundreds of fans to make dynamic predictions throughout the game. 

●     The Gist  (Toronto, ON) – The new platform with original sports content created by women for women gained unique access to MLSE teams including an exclusive interview with Toronto Raptors President Masai Ujiri on the announcement of the OVO Athletic Centre. 

●     Performance Phenomics (Toronto, ON) – Several MLSE teams are exploring Performance Phenomics’ state-of-the-art brain imaging assessments tools to deliver new insights into athlete performance and recovery.

“I’ve been incredibly impressed win the initial work coming out of the Future of Sport Lab especially the passion of the six startups. Ryerson and MLSE have created a wonderful environment for sport innovation and acceleration that will drive growth in the Canadian industry for years to come,” said Brian Cooper, Chair, Future of Sport Lab.

Future of Sport Lab (FSL) will begin accepting applications for its second cohort this Fall.

Sports Techie, sharing the risk of an original startup concept or product is the right thing to do. Together with Ryerson and MLSE, FSL has this primary need top of mind. Whether you are early stage or more mature, this pilot program fills the many needs associated with beginning a sports tech business and then some.

The Rogers family is supporting Canadian sports tech startups via the FSL. Cheri says by investing in them, through training and acceleration, with introductions to their network and investor community, it truly is a win-win-win for the startups, Ryerson and MLSE.

I found it interesting that many of the activations come from media-driven stories. Scouting, player performance and broadcasting, peer-to-peer apps and the brain, together with women-centric content sums it up the first group of startups spot on.

What’s next? We did not discuss this but look for gaming, snow sports and wellness to perhaps be included this Autumn, imo.

Oh, Canada!

See ya later sportstechie in Seattle, Atlanta and around the world!

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Tags: Sports Techie, sports technology, sports tech


One response to “Future of Sport Lab, MLSE and Ryerson University Sports Tech Startup Cohorts”

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    Can you tell us more about this? I’d want to find out some additional information.