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SportsTech Ireland founders Emily Ross, Grainne Barry and Martina Skelly

A new initiative aiming to develop Sports Technology research and business growth in Ireland has been set up in Limerick, spearheaded by three tech entrepreneurs.

SportsTech Ireland aims to be a bridge between commercial bodies, start-ups and entrepreneurs, research facilities and VCs, and has partnered with a number of international organisations to help position Ireland as a global destination for SportsTech companies.

The not-for-profit initiative is committed to doubling the number of SportsTech companies operating in Ireland by 2020, through mentoring and commercialisation programs, the promotion of research, and the positioning of a landing zone with a dedicated performance lab for SportsTech companies looking to locate in Ireland.

SportsTech Ireland logo

Founded by Martina Skelly, Gráinne Barry and Emily Ross, they have a busy schedule of programmes and events ahead, and are also planning to build the team out further.

Gráinne Barry, one of SportsTech Ireland’s founders says that Limerick is the ideal home for SportsTech Ireland: “Limerick is at the heart of Ireland’s passion for sport. Not only that, a world class university and sporting campus, access to the airport, competitive costs and a wealth of space all combine to make Limerick one of the most attractive cities in Europe to do business. With over 40 such companies already in Ireland, the opportunity existed to bring them together for collaboration and a network effect.”

All three of us have made Limerick our home. I am originally from Armagh and both Martina and Emily relocated from Dublin. We have chosen to live, work and raise our families here. We are proud to live here. We are also passionate about sport and the positive impact it can have. Limerick thrives on sport, it’s in our DNA. And Sports Technology is one of the fastest growing verticals for innovation, investment, and job creation. We were activated to help Limerick own the SportsTech space,” said Gráinne.

Martina Skelly, CEO of patient booking platform YellowSchedule and fellow founder said: “Sports technology is a fast moving vertical with massive evolutions in everything from wearables, to player analytics, to sports performance measurement. Our research indicates that the market will be worth over $113B by 2021. Ireland is perfectly positioned to be a gateway for SportsTech companies in the US, and to drive growth, both indigenous and from abroad, through the creation of a strong support network on the ground.”

The three co-founders were all based in the Nexus Innovation Centre on the University of Limerick campus at different stages. Emily Ross said: “Work spaces like Nexus are crucial for the development of a startup ecosystem, and we’ll need many more of them, alongside innovative projects such as Bank of Ireland’s Workbench, LIT’s Innovation Ladder and Innovate Limerick’s building ‘The Engine’ in order to seed an ecosystem with enough momentum to deliver real economic impact to the region for the long-term.”

Along with utilising the Nexus Centre, they have also engaged with many local and national organisations. Gráinne explained: “The IDA were our very first advocates, and Niall O’Callaghan in particular has been a champion of ours. The Chamber also understood from the very first day what we were trying to do, and has been very helpful. The University of Limerick has been very supportive. Access to research is essential to the companies in this space, and UL is doing remarkable work in sports performance, biomechanics, performance analytics and more. Our advisory board has helped us a great deal. We are also collaborating with a number of private partners in the technology space to bring about some really interesting projects over the next 12 months.”

Martina’s advice for others considering a start-up: “The ecosystem in Limerick is supportive, encouraging and continuously improving. Our advice would be to reach out to the network of like-minded entrepreneurs and organisations and ask for help. People want to help, it’s basic human nature. Our favourite piece of advice is not to let fear of failure hold you back. Sometimes to move forward, you have to be brave and make the leap!”

For more information visit sportstechireland.com.

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