Back in March, we hosted a Pitch Day to select finalists for WERDER LAB - the incubation program powered by Werder Bremen and betahausX. Nearly 100 teams in the fields of talent prediction, injury prevention, and digital content management applied for a chance to work with one of Germany’s largest sports clubs. And after a series of tough selection rounds and an intense pitch day, three leading SportsTech teams were selected as the very best candidates to advance into the LAB.
Well, it’s officially halftime for WERDER LAB. We checked in with finalists – The Gene Box, SVEXA, and Skill Corner – as well as the project team at Werder Bremen to see just how the game is going so far.
Here’s what they had to say about the status of their projects, the perks of remote collaboration, and their vision for the future of sports.
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There have been some unprecedented challenges since WERDER LAB kicked off, namely COVID-19. The pandemic has both limited opportunities for in-person meetings and created underlying uncertainty around just when the football season will be resumed.
When asked how this obstacle is impacting the incubator’s progress, Tarek Brauer, VP of Legal & HR at Werder Bremen, responded that collaboration has been surprisingly easy.
“Actually, there are some very positive aspects linked to this way of collaboration,” Brauer said, citing efficient video calls, quick response times, clear deliverables, and an overall reduction in travel times and expenses.
“All of [the teams] have some kind of track record already and are not completely immature, yet with a clear vision and potential to develop in the near future. At the same time, they don’t have a full-fledged out-of-the-box product with only little room left for development, which very much meets our expectation of the phase the startups ideally should be in at this point,” said Nico Hruby, Chief Digital Officer of Werder Bremen.
Now Werder Bremen is heading into the second half with the hopes that the finalist’s ambitious ideas will become realistic outcomes in time for WERDER LAB Demo Day.
Focus Area: Player Performance / Injury Prevention
The Gene Box takes a science-first approach to decision making. Using a combination of genomics and AI, they’re working alongside Werder Bremen to create what they’re calling a “Genetic Tool Kit”. Through predictive testing, they’re hoping to curb one of the biggest threats to players and leagues alike: injuries.
On their partnership with WERDER LAB, founder Pranav Anam explains: “We have customized the DNA reports for Werder Bremen as per their requirements. These reports will give a holistic view of the athlete in terms of athletic strengths, injury risks, nutritional profile, and personal characteristics.”
Based on the data they collect, they’ll be creating a detailed training guide to help athletes and coaches interpret their reports and make necessary adjustments.
The Gene Box has experience working with sports academies and fitness institutes, but they saw their opportunity with Werder Bremen as a chance to increase their impact by working with elite athletes. They spent the first half of WERDER LAB developing their trait list and will be going into the second half strong, rolling out player testing and developing training manuals.
“It has been a fulfilling experience in curating tailor-made genetic reports for Werder Bremen. The Gene Box has left no stone unturned in creating actionable insights to benefit the players and coaches from the power of genomics.”
As The Gene Box sees it, injury prevention is just the beginning of this journey. Throughout the process, they have also been considering possibilities for how their data could democratize and normalize talent prediction and athlete development in any sport.
“Our sincere thanks to betahausX and Werder Labs for this opportunity to make a small difference in a worshipped sport such as football.”
Focus Area: Player Performance / Injury Prevention
Silicon Valley Exercise Analytics (SVEXA) is rebelling against group analysis when it comes to player performance and injury prevention.
“We bring together all information about the athlete’s physiological, psychological, and molecular profiles using a combination of human and artificial intelligence… to create truly individualized models and recommendations,” says SVEXA.
As part of WERDER LAB, they’re working on retrospective injury prediction and using data to create Player Passports and individualized training recommendations.
When asked about why they joined the program in the first place, SVEXA replied: “WERDER LAB has offered us a great opportunity to test our messaging and product ‘pitch’ with top tier sports team execs. Now that we were successful in the competition and are in the project, it’s a great opportunity to gather real, pro team data, prove our scientific principles, and refine our product plans in partnership with Werder Bremen.”
And after the first half of the project spent gathering and integrating data sources to develop an initial injury prediction analysis, they’re coming back to the second half in full strength to focus on refining retrospective injury prediction and delivering Player Passports™.
“[We want to show] how our products can be used on a day-to-day basis to make real, actionable decisions and improvements to player training.”
Focus Area: Talent Prediction
French startup Skill Corner is creating what they call “the new live football experience” using AI-powered video tracking that can collect data from any live broadcast.
By recognizing, positioning, and following players on the field, they’re able to create both live match visualizations (cool) and collect more than 1 million previously unrecognized data points per match (actually, even cooler).
You might be wondering what anyone would need that much match data for. Well, recruiting interesting players can be a time-intensive activity. “We believe strongly that our new insights will help clubs minimize the risks linked to player recruitment and make them save time finding new interesting players,” says Skill Corner on what they envisioned in joining the LAB.
They’ve now partnered with the Werder Bremen Scouting Team to help them quantify and monitor specific metrics as they consider new players. Participating in the program has given them access to aggregated data and they’ve been testing their prediction models across leagues in the UK, France, and Italy.
And in a time when in-person scouting isn’t possible, their product is proving to be more needed than ever. Video tracking tech can analyze more than 200,000 games from anywhere in the world.
While they’re still validating all the use cases, they’re hoping that recruitment decisions that used to be more subjective can be made clear because it’s all in the data.
“We hope Werder Bremen will be convinced that our data will bring value to them and it will be the start of a long term partnership,” said Skill Corner when asked what they’re aspiring to at the end of WERDER LAB.
That’s a wrap on our halftime report. Stick around for WERDER LAB Demo Day where we’ll update you on how the teams performed during the second half.
In the meantime, you can follow betahaus for news about Werder Lab and if you’re looking for SportsTech innovation, check out betahausX’s game-changing project, New Court.