Tech Start-Ups Challenged to Enhance Golf Via Creative Solutions

Oliver Wilson (second left) is joining representatives from the European Tour and Tata Communications on the panel of judges. Picture by European Tour.

London, England: The European Tour and Tata Communications, a leading global digital infrastructure provider, are launching an innovation contest that calls on start-ups around the world to develop creative new solutions and concepts to enhance the game of golf.

The European Tour Innovation Hub with Tata Communications aims to find ideas that can be developed commercially with support from the Tour’s business development team, venture capital (VC) firms and Tata Communications, with the winning solution to be tested in action during the 2020 season.

The ideas might include concepts which enable a truly connected golf course, bring fans closer to the game and enhance their experience or enhance the Tour’s broadcast and production.

Entries can be submitted via https://www.tatacommunications.com/innovationhub and will be whittled down to a shortlist of three start-ups, to be announced in November. These businesses will then get to attend an immersion workshop in London in February 2020 to develop their ideas further with coaching from VC firms, the European Tour and Tata Communications.

This workshop will culminate in a Dragon’s Den-style pitch and the winner will be decided two weeks after the closure of the workshop. The winner will get a trip to the Hero India Open in Delhi in March 2020, where they will be able to showcase their idea to tech industry leaders.

Finally, they will work with the European Tour’s business development team to turn the idea into an application that will be tested in action as a proof-of-concept at a leading European Tour event in 2020.

“The European Tour is at the forefront of innovation through our content, our creative formats and our use of technology, all of which seeks to maximise the fan experience,” said Rufus Hack, Chief Content Officer, European Tour. “For us, the natural next step is to reach out to innovative start-ups to find creative and unique ideas and concepts we can develop together to help us continue to transform our sport globally and drive golf further. We’re all looking forward to seeing what the entrants come up with.”

Michael Cole, Chief Technology Officer, European Tour, said: “Ubiquitous connectivity opens up immense opportunities in golf. We are looking for an innovative concept that can utilise new technologies and make a real difference to the fan experience, both on site at events and for those following digitally.”

Mehul Kapadia, Global Head of Marketing, Tata Communications, added: “We’ve seen many sports adopt different digital platforms, but few have been able to maximise their business potential – and that’s what this competition is all about.

“We’re looking for ideas for solutions that would be truly transformative for golf, not just technologically, but also commercially or operationally, so making a real difference to the bottom line. The winning idea will be one that benefits not just the fans and the European Tour, but the sport’s entire eco-system. For the winning start-up, the global exposure and, more importantly, the potential to scale to all European Tour tournaments can be invaluable as well.”

Tri Pham, Chief Strategy Officer, Tata Communications, said: “Innovation through digital technologies enables organisations across sectors – from sports and manufacturing to banking – to drive their growth and remain competitive.

“We believe that to innovate successfully, organisations must bring together the right eco-system of partners. That’s what this competition aims to do. We look forward to leveraging our relationships in the world’s VC and start-up communities to help pave the way for the digital transformation of golf.”

The panel of judges will include Cole, Hack, Kapadia and Pham. They will be joined by Oliver Wilson, winner of the 2014 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and a Ryder Cup player.

“It’s great that the European Tour and Tata Communications are creating a way that allows for innovative ideas and concepts to flourish in the world of golf,” said Wilson. “Whether you are a player, a sponsor or a fan, we all have a shared interest in ensuring we are engaging our fans and driving the game forward. This is a great step that the Tour is making, and as a player, I’m delighted that Tata Communications is partnering with us on this initiative.”

Tata Communications is the Official Global Connectivity Supplier of the European Tour, bringing video feeds from 48 European Tour tournaments in 31 countries worldwide to 43 broadcasters, reaching close to half a billion golf fans across five continents throughout the year.

The two organisations also work together to drive innovation in golf. For example, they undertook the world’s first test of live 360° video in 8K Ultra High Definition at the 2018 Sky Sports British Masters to show how virtual reality (VR) applications could enable fans at home and at the course to engage with the action in new ways.

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