By Cheryl Gray
Queensland has embraced a sport technology revolution powered by world-class athletes, engineers and computer programmers.
Inventions ranging from wearables, on-field sensor technology and high-performance analytic tools are ringing in a new age in sport that could give Queensland a winning edge as it eyes a bid for the 2032 Olympics.
The concepts of a next generation Olympics were discussed at CES, the world’s largest consumer technology trade show held in Las Vegas, United States. The impact of technology was acknowledged as a major growth area in the evolution of sport and fan engagement.
The global sports technology sector was valued at USD$27.5 billion in 2018 and is expected to grow to USD$93.8 billion by 2027, providing significant ongoing potential for the Australian sports tech sector.
Modelling by KPMG valued growth in Australia’s domestic sports tech sector at between AUD$1 billion and $3.2 billion per annum.
Queensland has the second highest concentration of sports tech startups after Victoria, where 65 per cent of sport tech industries are currently based. The Australian Sport Technologies Network (ASTN) estimates that Queensland companies comprise 28 per cent of its membership.
The Queensland Government’s innovation initiative, Advance Queensland, is supporting the sector through events and grant funding to assist in accelerating the commercialisation of innovative Queensland ideas into market-ready products.
Cricket is at the forefront of new sport tech inventions which ranges from the promise of faster and more accurate umpiring decisions, as well as real-time, on-field data.
A trio of former Queensland cricketers, including ex-international fast bowlers Peter George and Michael Kasprowicz and former State captain Chris Hartley, are leading the development of innovations that would bring about a new style of cricket through their separate sports tech enterprises.
As the inventor and developer of a sensor system that detects front foot no-balls, Peter George’s MyCall NoBall Detector recently received a $100,000 grant from the Advance Queensland Ignite Ideas Fund to undertake further testing and refine the technology to be game-ready in 2020. This additional funding will allow Sportech Industries to undertake further product testing, enhance the technology and refine the business development plan to continue the successful growth of the business.
Hartley’s light-up boundary rope debuted at Brisbane Heat matches played at Metricon Stadium, on the Gold Coast, on New Year’s Day, with a follow-up trial at The Gabba in January.
With more than 300 million participants, cricket offers an enticing global market for Queensland’s sports tech entrants. The sport has proven to be an early adopter of technology, from the Snickometer to Hawk-Eye, Hot Spot and the Zing Stumps.
“We believe MyCallTM is the next technological development that will drive faster, more entertaining cricket,” Peter George said.
Co-founder Suzy George said Queensland’s support for the startup ecosystem was driving a surge of sport tech innovation.
“It’s a great time to be a startup in Queensland,” she said. “There’s phenomenal support and services available and that’s been crucial to the success of a number of sport tech enterprises including our own.
“The Ignite Ideas funding has been received within a broad context of support from MyCall from Advance Queensland, including the opportunity to participate in a mission led by StartUp Catalyst to the UK in June with Queensland’s Chief Entrepreneur Leanne Kemp and the Female Founders Board Advisory Program.”
The funding grant followed the company’s successful seed funding round in early 2019 which attracted private investors, one of which was Rob Goudswaard, former CEO of CUA Bank.
“I saw the potential for MyCall to revolutionise the game of cricket, along with huge commercial potential following commercialisation as this technology can be deployed at all levels of cricket,” Mr Goudswaard said.
Human performance scale-up Vald Performance is another success story, with support from Advance Queensland, in Brisbane.
Vald Performance CEO Laurie Malone said: “Queensland provides a great environment for sport tech innovation.”
Vald Performance was founded by Queensland University of Technology in 2014 to bring laboratory-grade technology to the sporting and allied health fields. The company has grown from seven employees in January 2018 to 51 now, with up to 30 more staff expected to join the company this year.
Queensland’s Chief Entrepreneur Leanne Kemp has said that global customers were looking to the state to provide the best in sports tech. These technologies could prove to be a winning edge in the competitive global cricket arena and help put South East Queensland on the dais for a 2032 Olympics bid.