Australia’s nascent sportstech sector is among the top five in the world, and already supporting more than 600 startups, according to a new report by the Australian Sports Technologies Network (ASTN).

The inaugural Sports Innovation Report 2022 concludes that Australia already has one of the world’s most mature and interconnected ecosystems.

With the Brisbane Olympic Games a decade away, and the global sportstech industry currently worth an estimated $26 billion (US$17.9 billion), and expected to grow by 17.5 per cent annually to $58+ billion (US$40+ billion) by 2026, Australia can ride that wave.

ASTN chair James Demetriou said the annual contribution of local sportstech is estimated to be worth $3.1 billion, employing nearly 10,800 people.

Over the past decade, the number of local sportstech companies has grown from 224 to 605 by 2022, a 170 per cent increase.

As ASTN marks its 10th anniversary, Demetriou said the local sportstech sector is on track to reach unprecedented levels if it embraces the emerging trends pinpointed in the report.

“Australia is punching above its weight and is now regarded as one of the top five nations globally in sportstech,” he said.

“We are building one of the world’s most advanced and integrated sports innovations ecosystems over the next decade leading up to several major events in Australia’s sporting calendar including the 2032 Summer Olympic Games.”

It’s not just about winning medals on the global stage, with the tech filtering down to all sports lovers, whether they’re participants or viewers.

As a result, Demetriou argues job creation, economic growth, and trade and investment can be the local sector’s legacy.

Source: ASTN

The report also identifies 10 major themes outlining the strategic opportunities for the sector and sustainability is an unexpected yet core focus.

“To reach their full potential and to keep pace globally, there are real line-break opportunities that these firms should be taking advantage of that will further enable them to ride the wave of success they have enjoyed in past years,” Demetriou said.

“The topic of sustainability is consistently high on the global news agenda and sports is playing a leading role in promoting and supporting sustainability. Not only is it the right thing to do but it will give them a competitive advantage.”

The report’s key findings include:

  • Victoria leads the way as the place of sports innovation, representing 44 per cent of the industry, followed by NSW at 27 per cent and QLD at 20 per cent. ASTN estimates that nearly half of jobs are currently located in Victoria, as of the top 118 largest sportstech companies, 46 are based in Victoria.

  • Of the tech categories sportstech businesses adopt, 61 per cent were ICT-based (particularly around capturing and distributing sports content), 16 per cent were advanced materials (such as those used for apparel and equipment that could be fibres or composites), 13 per cent were sensors and devices whilst 9 per cent were health, medical & biotech.

  • There are now around 70 sportstech networks /clusters, 90 sports technology accelerators and more than 100 dedicated sportstech investors globally.

  • ASTN identified 118 local sportstech companies as industry leaders, employing more than 8,000 people and generating $2.72bn in annual revenue (89 per cent of total industry revenue).

  • Some of the trends outlined in the report, forming part of ASTN’s five-year strategy, include women in sportstech, sustainability and ESG (environment, sustainability, governance), artificial intelligence, smart apparel, equipment and wearables, and investment and venture capital into Australian sports companies.

The 10-year-old ASTN supports the commercialisation, development, and promotion of Australian-inspired sports technologies, spanning everything from performance to fan engagement, data, equipment, smart apparel and more.

It’s currently establishing the first Australian Sports Innovation Centre of Excellence adjacent to Melbourne Olympic Park.

This story was originally published on Startup Daily.