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Tel Aviv-based HYPE Sports Innovation, a global innovation platform for the sports industry, announced on Wednesday the establishment of the first dedicated blockchain accelerator for sports technology.
The accelerator will feature a 14-week program for 10 selected start-ups from around the world seeking to harness blockchain technology in sports, including a two-day bootcamp, personalized mentoring, weekly remote classes from hi-tech experts, and a demo-day in front of partners, investors and sports clubs.
The blockchain accelerator is the 12th program initiated by HYPE to date, having previously launched accelerators in partnership with leading sports brands and academic institutions including FC Cologne, Shakhtar Donetsk, University of Queensland, George Washington University, and Loughborough University.
“Blockchain has been fundamental in the way that it has changed the paradigm of transactions,” HYPO Chief Executive Dr. Ilan Hadar told The Jerusalem Post.
“You can use it in almost every aspect where there is a need for a transaction, whether it’s fan engagement, virtual reality or even wearables. It’s very much in its infant stages at the moment in sport, but it’s gaining traction and we have a lot of customers and partners looking to embrace and embed such technologies.”
Early adopters of blockchain technology include Italian soccer club Juventus, which launched an “Official Fan Token” with blockchain platform Socios.com and the Los Angeles Kings of the National Hockey League, which launched a blockchain-based platform last month for verifying the authenticity of merchandise.
“We have identified three sub-segments that are the hottest and the most promising in sports innovation: sports, artificial intelligence and blockchain,” said Hadar.
“These three fundamental technologies are changing the way people consume sports. The first accelerator we chose to go with was blockchain, but the other two will materialize soon enough.”
A major incentive for start-ups selected to join the accelerator, HYPE says, is the platform’s access to the sport technology ecosystem, consisting of thousands of start-ups, investors and venture capital firms and sports teams worldwide. Applications for the accelerator are now open, which will run from July to September.
“The accelerators are at the heart of everything we do at HYPE,” said Bernd Wahler, HYPE chairman and former chief marketing officer of Adidas.
“Sports has the unique ability to create magical moments for players and fans alike and technology is changing the way we experience and share those moments and celebrate our sports heroes. Our team at HYPE is always on the lookout for innovators and entrepreneurs that can make a meaningful impact on the games we all grew up loving.”
Among the 125 start-up graduates of HYPE’s previous 11 accelerator programs, 58 have signed equity agreements with HYPE, 27 have raised significant funding the accelerator cycles, and a further four have signed major deals with strategic partners.
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