The Challenge, which has been held regularly across Europe in recent years, will give students the opportunity to design and create ideas and services using Sportradar’s market-leading data. As well as learning how to best create and develop ideas, students will also have the chance to network and compete for a chance to win part of the US$3,000 prize money on offer.
Ahead of the Innovation Challenge’s first venture Stateside, Sportradar caught up with Innovation Director Javier Altamirano and Malte Siegle, Head of Sportradar’s University and Research Programme, to discuss what is another step forward for the company’s innovation setup.
GMB - What’s the thinking behind taking the Innovation Challenge outside Europe for the first time?
MS - Because Sportradar already enjoys a strong market presence in the US, and is expanding further all the time, it seems only natural that we should have the Innovation Challenge in the States. We’re always looking to encourage and network with the next generation of talent, in all our territories, and having already seen our partnership with the University of Minnesota start strongly, it’s great to reach another essential milestone for the company.
JA - This is part of a greater strategy of external innovation in the US whereby Sportradar collaborates on a deep level with top-notch universities which happen to be aligned with Sportradar offices and have strong data programs. This proximity allows for follow-up projects and overall closer contact. We want these students to familiarise themselves with Sportradar data.
What do you expect to see from the students in Minneapolis?
JA - We’ve already seen some fantastic ideas from our past competitions in Europe and we’re confident that will continue next month here in Minnesota. Aside from innovative and interesting products, the main thing we want to see is enthusiasm and a positive approach because the Innovation Challenge is as much about networking and making connections as it is around creating products. Lots of digital-era innovations come from this side of the pond (Facebook, Stubhub, Snapchat, etc.) so we want to see if the students can carry on in that vein next month.
MS - We’ve also had former winners come and join Sportradar in a working capacity before now and that’s an example of what we want to achieve as a company – having that talent pipeline and a strong connection with entrepreneurial talent.
The US is obviously a huge market for Sportradar, does this make next month’s Challenge even more exciting?
JA - The American sports tech market has obviously been one of the biggest in the world for some time now, and we’re looking forward to seeing what the students in Minneapolis come up with. There’s also the recent developments with the betting market in the US, so that’s another area that might be of interest to participants when it comes to formulating ideas.
MS - It doesn’t have to be around betting of course, we’ll have Sportradar experts from different parts of the business who can advise and offer insight to students. Ultimately, we want to see something new and different and that’s always what impresses the judges most.
Why should students look to take part in the event?
MS - If you’re a student who has a passion for sports data, enjoys thinking outside the box and wants to make some useful connections with people who know the industry inside out, the Innovation Challenge is for you.
We give full access to our API and SDK for the day and provide guidance courtesy of our mentors, so it really is a great opportunity to see what you can come up with, using sports data.
…and not to mention the $3,000 prize pool?
JA: Obviously, a $3,000 prize pool is a good incentive, too, and that’s what usually grabs the attention, but we don’t think it should be the main focus for groups. One-on-one time with our mentors and the chance to put our API to good use, all while networking with new connections – you can’t really put a price on that.