Hype Sports Innovation (HSI), an incubator project chaired by Bernd Wahler, the former president of the German soccer club VfB Stuttgart, has announced plans for a new US$75 million capital fund to help sports start-ups tap into emerging technology.
The Israel-based firm is bidding to provide assistance to more than 10,000 nascent sports businesses through its Hype Capital project. The fund is focused on bringing artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), and performance analytics to the sports industry, while also enabling companies to monetise fan engagement, as well support the growth of esports.
Former Reebok president, Uli Becker, is heading up the Hype Capital as fund chairman, alongside Wahler, who chairs the HSI board.
Becker said: “Once we reach our funding target, we will support the next unicorns of sports innovation, aiming to capitalise on emerging technology.
“We already have vast experience promoting start-ups in our ecosystem, with forty percent of firms in the London accelerator raising money through our programme.”
Hype’s accelerator network includes major sports brands, clubs and federations, such as Uefa, European soccer’s governing body, the National Football League (NFL), as well as partnerships with Asics, Spalding, Adidas, and Microsoft.
Discussing its potential, Wahler said: “To reduce the risk for investors we only work with elite start-ups, whom we know personally and are part of our deal flow.
“Once we get them on board, we connect them to corporations in our accelerator programme, giving them an outstanding global platform.”