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Enterprise Ireland And IRFU Take Sports Innovation Partnership Over The Line For Second Phase

IRFU and Enterprise Ireland partnership announcement.

Pictured at the announcement in the Aviva Stadium is (l-r) Dr Johann Issartel from MoveAhead, Lucas Brock (11) of De La Salle Palmerston F.C, Kate Binchy from the IRFU, Ella Mullins (11) from Greystones RFC, and Keith Brock from Enterprise IrelandPicture by Shane O'Neill, Coalesce.

Enterprise Ireland and the IRFU has today announced that its’ sports innovation partnership is set to continue and will return for a second phase, giving more Irish companies an opportunity to test, trial, and potentially scale their products in a professional rugby environment.

Up to three companies will be selected to participate in this phase of the programme. Enterprise Ireland will support the process by providing the selected participants with a wrap-around support programme, which will include financial support, mentoring and access to specialist expertise. The engagement in the programme for the selected companies will be between 9-12 months.

This sports innovation partnership initially launched in 2022 and three companies were selected to test and validate their products and innovations, working with teams across the organisation, including our national squads.

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Following the success of the first phase, the partnership will now continue, and new applications will be sought from companies that are supported by Enterprise Ireland who have innovative solutions and technologies which focus on three key areas;

  • Accelerating Women’s Rugby in Ireland;
  • Improving Player Availability and Wellbeing;
  • Uncovering Next Generation Fan Insights and Experiences

 Keith Brock, Senior Development Adviser, Enterprise Ireland said: “Global leaders are increasingly turning to Irish innovators for strategic solutions to challenges, so we are delighted to partner with this elite sporting organisation to connect them with our impressive start-up community.

“The success of the first phase of this programme was testament to the quality of Irish tech companies and their innovations, so we are delighted to continue this partnership as it will enable innovators and start-ups to gain insights at an early stage of their product or services development. Sport is an important part of Irish society and sports technology is a growing sector in Ireland, so we’re both committed and proud to support the innovation in this area.”

Scott Walker, IRFU Director of Strategy and Technology said: Technology is an important driver in the world of Irish Sport, so the IRFU is extremely excited to partner with Enterprise Ireland for a second phase of this initiative. We are excited to further explore and pilot emerging technologies that advance the IRFU’s priorities and align to its strategy.”

Irish-owned company MoveAhead, a motion tracking and movement analytics engine, was selected to participate in the first phase of this sports innovation partnership with their ‘Rugby Mini Moves’ programme, which is focused on empowering children to develop key movement skills enabling them to experience success in real-life play situations on and off the rugby pitch.

Speaking about their participation in the sports innovation partnership, Dr Johann Issartel and Dr Jamie McGann, Founders, MoveAhead said:  “This collaboration with the IRFU, through the sports innovation partnership with Enterprise Ireland, is a significant milestone for MoveAhead. It is not just about innovation; it’s about laying the groundwork for the future, ensuring that every child’s journey is marked by movement, joy, and the essential life skills inherent in the world of sports. By combining our scientific research with the passion and expertise of IRFU, we are not only enhancing our platform for digital play but also establishing the foundation for lifelong sports participation and physical wellbeing. This collaboration is a commitment to nurturing the holistic growth of every child, fostering a love for movement that extends beyond screens and into the fabric of their active lives.”

Applications open today (Friday 15th March) and will run for two weeks, closing on 5th April.  Interested applicants must be Enterprise Ireland supported companies, and will be required to pitch their products to a panel, outlining their proposal and confirming the ‘value add’ their product would be able to provide to rugby in Ireland.

Download the application form here

All applications are to be submitted to Enterprise Ireland for the attention of luke.byrne@enterprise-ireland.com before 12.00pm Friday 5th April.