ACCELERATE “Connecting Sport and Innovation” continues to create synergies

The third ACCELERATE workshop concluded last week at the SwissTech Convention Centre, Lausanne, bringing together once again start up’s, various delegates from International Federations and experts from the field of sports. 

ACCELERATE, organised by AISTS, Innovaud and CVCI, was executed for the first time in 2015 as an exclusive innovation and sports workshop with the goal to address the most current specific needs in sports technology. 

This year’s theme focused on the “impact of technology innovation on sports equipment” with a in depth look at safety, excitement and fairness.  As per the previous editions of the ACCELERATE workshop, a study was carried out before the event to assess the specific needs of various International Federations on the theme.  

The first keynote speaker of the workshop was Professor Jan-Anders Mansson, former AISTS President, and current Distinguished Professor of Materials and Chemical Engineering at Purdue University in the USA.  Professor Mansson started with EPFL in 1990 as a Professor and Laboratory Director and also served as Director and Vice President throughout his time at EPFL.  He recently moved to the Purdue University and is also serving as the Co-Director of IN-MaC (Indiana Next Generation Manufacturing Competitiveness Center). 

Professor Mansson, Purdue University

Professor Mansson believes the main challenge in sport is finding a balance between safety and excitement.

Be safe at the edge. 

He also stated that sport is driven by new needs, new demands, new materials and new regulations but the spirit of sport must always remain in the centre. 

New technologies will always be pushing the limits, however they must continue to protect its end users, for example the development of racing cars over the years thanks to new regulations that have come from a deeper understanding of composite materials.

Professor Mansson also pointed out that the sport industry is one of the earlier adopters of technological innovation.

The aeronautical industry can take over 20 years to accept a new technology, the automotive world would wait around 10 years, sports will generally be ready to commercialise to a large audience within 3-5 years.

This can mean big potential for research and innovation. Some sectors that show room for innovation are: ICT, human modelling, composite science, 3D printing, nano-technology, digital manufacturing, sustainability.  Finally, according to Professor Mansson, there is much room for improvement on sports venues. He presented some interesting ideas for adapting and combining sport disciplines in existing venues.

The second keynote speaker was Professor Eric Nauman, Director, College of Engineering Honors Program and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University who has done extensive research in cell and tissue mechanics, human injury, adult stem cell-based tissue regeneration and biophysics and biotransport.

Professor Nauman, Purdue University

Professor Nauman spoke extensively about the prevention and detection of concussion and more specifically a study he undertook with young athletes from the sports of American football, football, ice hockey and lacrosse.  The study tracked every brain accident throughout one season. MRI tests, DTI tests and helmet testings were all undertaken and the results were surprising, not just for the athletes’ brain health but also for their general health and safety on and off the field. Further studies were done with a variety of other sports considered “non-violent” and these results were even more unexpected.

Research and development on helmet testing is also one of his specialities. Current tests do not allow for an input (data on the crash itself) and output (consequence of the impact) measurement, which could be improved through sensor technology. Such studies can help not only in the production of safety equipment, but also give a much better idea for making rule changes in a variety of sports, and can help expanding the research to other fields of health and safety.

Panel Session

The third session of the day was a panel discussion with various experts including the two keynote speakers and representatives of the industry: Prof. Véronique Michaud expert in composite materials, Prof. Kamiar Aminian who works with sensor technology, Björn Bruhin research coordinator and coach from Swiss-Ski and Gustavo Arellano from FIBA representing the International Federations’ point of view. The discussion went into several very interesting topics starting from the evolution of different sports with “fresh” disciplines, such as 3x3 basketball, and the popularity the sport in its whole has gained thanks to this new approach, which suggests sports should be open to its evolving role and new trends in society.

Afternoon Workshop

The need for closer collaboration between federations and academia was mentioned so as to find an adapted solution to rules and regulations changes in order to transform technologies faster and balance the need of safety and entertainment. 

The afternoon session began with viewpoints from the field from the FIM, AIBA and ICF speaking on their technological and innovation needs from an International Federation point of view followed by a summary given by AISTS on the interviews held with the sport organisations.

It was evident that there is a clear need for collaboration between University researchers, innovators and sports governing bodies, and a not so clear role to be covered by each of these parties. The main outcome of the study was that the sport industry is ready to welcome new technology, as long as it does not imply a change in the sport’s nature and its regulations. Three current top priorities for International Federations include: injury prevention for their athletes, which includes the consolidation of homologation processes to be able to balance safety and innovation, and data collection and analysis, which brings many doubts including reliability, credibility, and privacy for example.

Three workshops on new matierials and equipment for performance and fashion, wearables and sensors and safety assessment and injury prevention concluded the busy schedule. 

A post event report will be distributed to all participants with all key findings and results from the workshop in the next coming weeks.  For more information go to http://accelerate.events or contact Bruna Di Napoli bruna.dinapoli@aists.org


About the AISTS

The AISTS (International Academy of Sports Science and Technology) was founded in 2000 by the International Olympic Committee, EPFL, University of Lausanne, University of Geneva, IMD Business School, Ecole Hôteliere de Lausanne, City of Lausanne and Canton of Vaud. A not-for-profit foundation, the AISTS is committed to professionalising sports management through continuing education, applied research and an engaging platform for industry connections.

About ACCELERATE

ACCELERATE “Connecting Sport & Innovation” provides support to various technological initiatives, through a series of exclusive workshops, establishing a 360° view on current challenges within sports technology innovation.

For each edition, a new topic is chosen, with the objective of enabling collaborations between International Sports Organisations (ISOs) and high-tech innovators. Prior to each event, a research study is conducted through individual interviews with ISOs in order to identify their specific needs and challenges, according to the selected topic. ACCELERATE is free of charge, but by invitation only.

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