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Springboard project newsletter – June 27, 2022

Our online questionnaire showed that 79.5% of the asked athletes would be interested in receiving an educational training programme, whereas only 3% expressed no interest.

These findings illustrate the need for a strong educational training programme. The partners in the Springboard project aim to develop and implement an educational training programme for athletes focusing on technology-oriented sport entrepreneurship. With this initiative, we hope to aid athletes in the transition from sport to successful investors, business mentors, and entrepreneurs in the technology-oriented entrepreneurship ecosystem, particularly after their careers in sport end.

The Springboard project will design an online learning course. The content is based on a report, which included inputs from all partners and was led by Loughborough University. We wanted to grasp an in-depth understanding of the required knowledge and skills for elite athletes to be successful in technology-oriented entrepreneurship. Therefore, we interviewed former and active athletes, who now either own, work or/and invest in technology-oriented businesses. This was followed by an online questionnaire to capture athletes’ perspectives on their training needs and preferences for the training programme.

We found that:

  • The elite athletes’ prolonged involvement in sport can provide a key advantage when pursuing an entrepreneurial, mentoring or investing career in the sport technology market.
  • The elite athletes’ inside understanding of the sporting consumers’ needs and desires implies that they can identify revenue opportunities.
  • Elite athletes have strong networks with stakeholders who could be potential collaborators and often engage with fans, who would trust and purchase their products and services.
  • In pursuing an entrepreneurial career, athletes would require to have a good understanding of the industry ecosystem.
  • The key learning requirements include understanding of
    • the stakeholders involved in the industry ecosystem and funding opportunities
    • the bureaucratic and legal requirements in developing and running a business nationally and/or internationally.
    • Developing soft skills (including communication, leadership, and problem-solving) and numerical skills.
  • In contrast, the participants underlined that practical technological knowledge and skills are not essential, even in developing hardware entrepreneurship, to be in such a technology-oriented space.

Our analysis report provides insights for developing and implementing an athlete-centred education in form of a training programme for their professional development. According to the findings, the curriculum design of the technology-oriented sport entrepreneurship education should include learning content regarding

  • The technology-oriented sport entrepreneurship ecosystem and as a concept
  • Business development and management
  • Communication skills, including social media
  • Numeracy skills and finance

Based on the analysis of the athletes’ needs, it would be beneficial to offer both online and face-to-face teaching, as well as to consider delivering content through less traditional teaching methods (e.g., videos and documentaries). At the same time, it appears to be important to provide teaching that would not require a balanced time input from athletes, neither requiring too much of their time nor too little, considering busy sporting schedules.

The next step of the Springboard project is to develop the content of the educational, online training program. We look forward to telling you more about the project.