HYPE Sports Innovation, the world’s largest sports innovation platform, has launched a new blockchain accelerator specifically for the sports industry. Led by Bernd Wahler, former CMO of Adidas and ex-President of VfB Stuttgart, HYPE is promoting their twelfth accelerator at two boot camps with partners NYU Preston Robert Tisch Institute for Global Sport and ISDE Higher Institute of Law and Economics in Barcelona.
The NYU Preston Robert Tisch Institute for Global Sport and Barcelona boot camps will kick off HYPE’s blockchain accelerator program for sports-tech, which is looking to change how global consumers interact with their favorite clubs. Around thirty startups have been invited to attend the boot camps, and an elite few will be selected by HYPE to participate in their three-month blockchain accelerator program this summer.
“Our accelerators are at the heart of everything we do at HYPE,” said Bernd Wahler, Chairman of HYPE. “Sports has the unique ability to create magical moments for players and fans alike. Technology is changing the way we experience and share those moments and celebrate our sports heroes. HYPE is always on the lookout for innovators and entrepreneurs that can make a meaningful impact on the games we all grew up loving.”
Blockchain technology is already revolutionizing the global sports industry verticals and audiovisual rights. Many industry observers believe consumers no longer want to be mere spectators and are looking for new ways to interact with their favorite teams and sports stars. The Italian soccer giant Juventus F.C is leading the way with an “Official Fan Token”, which enables their 340 million fans worldwide to interact with the club directly. While the LA Kings of the National Hockey League initiated the first augmented reality blockchain authentication platform, utilizing its authentication features to ensure fans can verify their memorabilia purchases online.
“Blockchain, together with AI, is becoming a general purpose technology,” noted Dr. Nir Ben Lavi, the CEO of HYPE US Accelerators. “It is the core enabler for Web 3.0, the infrastructure of the next generation of online connectedness. As such, blockchain is driving major disruption that creates huge opportunities around sports—a field that is undergoing an innovation “perfect storm”, added Ben Lavi.
HYPE-backed blockchain startups are helping create new income models for the sports industry. They have more than 40k members (including major sports brands, clubs, federations, and academia), 11k startups, 750 investors and VCs, 450 global sports teams in their accelerator programme. Out of the 125 graduates of the eleven existing accelerator programs to date, 58 have signed equity agreements with HYPE, while 27 have raised significant funding during the accelerator cycles, and four have signed deals with strategic partners.
Aside from Bernd Wahler, HYPE’s latest blockchain accelerator also has the backing of their advisory board, which includes, Rod Nenner (Vice President of Washington Redskins), and Guy-Laurent Epstein (Marketing Director of UEFA). Recently, HYPE launched a $75 Million sports-tech fund, which already raised warehouse funding and signed the first term sheet with a promising startup. Uli Backer, former President of Reebok, is serving as Chairman at HYPE Capital.