Israel – The Silicon Valley Of Sports Technology3 min read

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James Massing

With a primary focus on the UK market, which has experienced explosive growth over the past decade, James is part of the National Football League’s international sponsorship group, responsible for driving year-on-year growth of a multi-million $ portfolio of blue-chip brands and organizations in line with the NFL’s international expansion. Prior to joining the NFL, James successfully managed off-the-field marketing and endorsement deals for top-level sports personalities, advising on and structuring two-way commercial partnerships. He has also worked across award winning sports marketing campaigns, including Budweiser’s sponsorship of The FA Cup, The FA’s 150th Anniversary and Dove Men+Care’s sponsorship of the (rugby) International Series. James also co-founded Victoria Pendleton Active Girls Camps working in partnership with The Youth Sport Trust and Loughborough University. These camps were held throughout summer 2015, at multiple venues across the UK, with the aim of inspiring young females to get involved in sport as well as motivate them to act as role models.

Israel, a country perhaps best known for its vast historical and cultural importance steeped in religion and tradition, has never been known as a major global force in sport. A quick jog of the memory may only bring up a few notable Israeli sport stars. Names such as Gal Fridman (the winner of Israel’s only Olympic gold medal) or even Premier League journeymen Yossi Benayoun and Tal Ben Haim spring to mind. Yet, in recent years Israel has asserted itself as a dominant player in one specific area of sport, sports technology.

Israeli start-ups are leading the stride in technology innovations in sports, particularly in video and sound.  Indeed, Tel Aviv and the surrounding area is starting to gain a reputation of being somewhat of a ‘Silicon Valley’ for sports technology start-ups. Yet this is no accident. It is the result of many decades of military and academic research in computer vision and image analysis which now, more than ever, lends itself to technological advancements in sport.

After reading about this movement, and the success of Israeli start-ups such as Replay Technologies (who were bought by Intel last year for around $170 million) and PlaySight (who have raised around $13 million since launching), I decided to go back to Israel to see what exactly was going on as well as meet some Israeli brands who are very active in the sport sponsorship space.

I have several friends and some family in Israel and have been there many times on holiday, but having recently returned from my business trip I was amazed by the myriad of different start-ups all working in sport and was fortunate enough to meet several of them to discuss their ground-breaking work.

Take, for example, Pixelott, which makes significant use of the research in computer vision and image-technology. Its products have become the main distribution channel for professional and amateur sports events. It all sounds very simple, Pixelott merely deploy an unmanned multi-camera system in a single fixed rig, but the results are outstanding. No longer are coaches required to spend hours on clunky software editing their own videos but they are instead instantly served with high quality highlights packages.

Meanwhile, through my work I am often posed the question how brands can best connect with their consumers and start-up KonnecTo have sought to find their own solution. Their data and activation techniques allow brands to turn every touch-point with their customers into a rewarding opportunity. Whilst many brands do use transaction-based loyalty programs, they miss an opportunity to build relationships based on experiences in the real world.  KonnecTo aims to redefine what this customer loyalty and interaction feels like.

The list goes on, I met with several other start-ups including Idomoo, whose pre-built live-action videos generate the highest consumer engagement known in the industry, Screenz who manage and personalise interactive digital content and InSoundz who are boldly trying to change the way in which sound is experienced in live event broadcasting.

Ultimately all this comes down to the simple, but possibly surprising, fact that Israel is leading the way in sport video and sound technology and has become a dominant player which must no longer be slept on by the wider international sports industry.

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James Massing

With a primary focus on the UK market, which has experienced explosive growth over the past decade, James is part of the National Football League’s international sponsorship group, responsible for driving year-on-year growth of a multi-million $ portfolio of blue-chip brands and organizations in line with the NFL’s international expansion. Prior to joining the NFL, James successfully managed off-the-field marketing and endorsement deals for top-level sports personalities, advising on and structuring two-way commercial partnerships. He has also worked across award winning sports marketing campaigns, including Budweiser’s sponsorship of The FA Cup, The FA’s 150th Anniversary and Dove Men+Care’s sponsorship of the (rugby) International Series. James also co-founded Victoria Pendleton Active Girls Camps working in partnership with The Youth Sport Trust and Loughborough University. These camps were held throughout summer 2015, at multiple venues across the UK, with the aim of inspiring young females to get involved in sport as well as motivate them to act as role models.

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