VfB Stuttgart is a long-standing club and can be proud to call itself one of the Bundesliga’s founding members. Building on this rich history, the club is opening up new perspectives: The city that gave the world Daimler, Mercedes and Porsche is once more at the forefront of technological innovation – only this time in the world of football. At VfB’s first-ever sports hackathon, held at the Mercedes-Benz Arena on 27 and 28 February, creative minds and deep thinkers came together to plot new ways of modernising the game.
‘As a traditional club, we also have to face the future,’ admitted Christian Ruf, VfB’s digital business and fan services coordinator.
Thirty entrepreneurs took part in the hackathon. They were split into ten groups of three based on the ‘hipster, hacker and hustler’ principle. Each was tasked with coming up with innovative solutions to traditional football issues.
One group came up with the idea that fans literally energise their clubs with emotion and movement on match day. Another group dealt with the issue of supporter mobility and ways of making it easier for fans to travel to and from games by informing them about alternative means of transport.
A third group looked at developing a system of sports performance analysis that would allow a coach to access real-time data on how each player is performing during a match, while yet another developed an app that would allow eSport enthusiasts to find partners in real life as well as online. This latter field is already booming in Germany, with Werder Bremen recently becoming the first winner of the VBL Club Championship and VfB Stuttgart the vice champion.
Hundreds of people from all parts of Germany applied to take part in the sports hackathon, which was also supported by the regional business development company Wirtschaftsförderung Region Stuttgart GmbH. They came from wide-ranging backgrounds and included software developers, hardware specialists, designers and marketing and concept professionals. Many had already founded start-ups, something that fits well with VfB’s philosophy. ‘We are looking for ideas that can be used either as a solution for internal use or for start-ups,’ added Ruf.
The 30 participants pitched their proposals to an expert panel of judges featuring representatives from the football club, its business partners and other local sponsors and investors. Six teams were then chosen to take part in VfB Partner Day, which took place on 5 March. There they were given the chance to further discuss their projects with the club and other experts.