On 25 and 26 March, the MERKUR SPIEL-ARENA in Düsseldorf will welcome delegates from across the world to SportsInnovation 2020 which will offer a glimpse into current and future sports technology trends and will also be a chance to discuss developments in areas such as match analysis, stadium experience, broadcasting and digital services. Andreas Heyden, Executive Vice President Digital Innovations DFL Group, gives answers to important questions on the event:
Andreas, one of the responsibilities of your role as EVP Digital Innovation DFL Group is the delivery of SportsInnovation 2020. Can you explain what exactly SportsInnovation is and what will be on offer this year?
SportsInnovation is an event established for innovative companies, partners and sports market participants. Together, Messe Düsseldorf and the DFL aim to showcase the most exciting technologies and developments in the sports industry, share experiences and learn from one another. The SportsInnovation trade fair is a beacon showcasing the DFL’s capacity for innovation, while offering a glimpse into the future. Of particular interest are solutions and applications that are not yet available on the market, or of which we are not yet even aware. The topics will be developed ‘from football for sport’.
There are other trade fairs that focus on innovation in the sports ecosystem. What makes SportsInnovation stand out?
SportsInnovation is not just a trade fair but a tech show. During the event we have live matches on the pitch, where both sport and media applications can be tested. We make the data and video feeds produced during the matches available to all our exhibitors. These opportunities make SportsInnovation 2020 unique.
Can you tell us what the DFL is hoping to achieve by hosting such an event with Messe Düsseldorf?
The Bundesliga is the most innovative football league in the world. We want to provide our fans, partners and clubs with unique services and experiences, so the DFL Group constantly monitors trends and technologies that might become relevant in future. In order to further develop the entire sports ecosystem, we invite innovative companies from all over the globe to showcase their latest developments and technologies and demonstrate how they see the future and how they are tackling future challenges.
When you say innovative companies from all over the globe, do they operate in specific areas?
At the DFL Group we own our entire media value chain. This is a unique asset within the world of football. We organise the competitions, are responsible for production of the media product, collect and process the official match data, distribute and market our own content and recently even tested applications to enhance the stadium experience. The focus areas of SportsInnovation 2020 are in line with these cornerstones of our business, so we have grouped them into ‘Broadcasting’, ‘Stadium experience’, ‘Match analysis’, ‘Sports performance’ as well as ‘Digital services’.
Can you explain briefly what will be different compared to the last SportsInnovation? What are the emerging hot topics in sports technology?
At SportsInnovation 2020 we aim to build on the great foundations laid in the previous edition. This means, for example, that we will continue with our innovation matches, but there will be more exclusive showcases to avoid squeezing too much content into a small time slot. Additionally, we will have a dedicated start-up area for promising young companies in the world of sports technology.
On a personal note, what kind of learnings do you hope to gain from SportsInnovation 2020 for future innovations within the DFL and for sports innovation in general?
I am sure that we will see how broader and transformational technological innovations such as artificial intelligence, augmented reality and 5G are influencing sports innovation. I am especially interested in first-timers presenting solutions in these areas – companies that we may not yet be aware of. Sport has always been a playground for innovation, with the unique opportunity to use technologies to transmit messages to millions of people around the world. I am excited to see which new opportunities SportsInnovation 2020 holds for us at the DFL to ensure we keep on innovating. By adopting new technologies that enhance the fan experience we will remain at the forefront of innovation in sports for years to come.