Israel Launches Its First Sports Tech Accelerator

TechNation | PlaySight scores $11 million in funds for sports technology ■ Brodmann17 wins blue chip backing for deep-learning algorithms

Israeli soccer coach Avram Grant, February 2, 2017.
AP / Sunday Alamba

Israel launches first sports tech accelerator 

Soccer star Avi Nimni and coach Avram Grant led a host of Israeli athletes to launch the country’s first sports tech accelerator Sunday night in Tel Aviv’s Ramat Hahayal. The new Olympia Zone center has operated under the radar for nearly a year, serving as a bridge between startups and sports leagues, apparel makers and media groups in Israel and abroad. Grant, whose career includes a stint as manager of England’s Chelsea FC, serves as a consultant. Also onboard are Elias Israel, a former editor of the Spanish sports newspaper Marca, and the British agent Leon Angel. “The segment is getting hot. We’re seeing more investing and slowly we’re starting to see exits,” said Eyal Baumel, who is one of the accelerator’s three founders and the CEO of media company Yoola. Besides providing office space to startups and a schedule of guest lecturers, Olympia Zone will offer a sports laboratory for testing and demonstrating new technology. (Eliran Rubin)

PlaySight scores $11 million in funds for  sports technology

PlaySight, whose SmartCourt technology is used by athletes to enhance their training and performance, said on Friday it had raised $11 million from Verizon Ventures and the legendary golfer Greg Norman. The funds will be used to expand SmartCourt beyond court games like tennis and basketball.”Sophisticated video, analytics and media solutions once reserved for professional athletes and teams are now becoming accessible to the masses,” said David Famolari, Director at Verizon Ventures. “By leveraging a network of intelligent cameras, PlaySight’s cloud-based video and analytics platform transforms every sports field, court and gym into a smart, connected space and helps athletes of all levels train smarter. The startup, which has raised $24 million since it was founded in 2013, has offices in Kfar Sava and in Los Angeles and a workforce of 50. Customers include the Golden State Warriors, the Phoenix Suns and the NBA. (Eliran Rubin)

Brodmann17 wins blue chip backing for deep-learning algorithms

Brodmann17, a new startup with big ideas about how to make computer vision better with less computer power has won the backing of leading blue chips. The company, whose technology is based on work by Prof. Leon Wolf of Tel Aviv University, on Friday announced it had raised $1.6 million in a seed round co-led by Lool Ventures, Samsung Next and the Sony Innovation Fund. Brodmann17, whose name comes from the area of the cerebral cortex where vision is processed, is focused on how to make deep learning-powered applications more efficient. They currently require massively parallel processors with very high power consumption, but Brodmann17 says it has restructured deep-learning algorithms to use just 5% of the computer resources normally required. “The advantage we bring is that you can use our engine on any existing hardware without external processors and at a faster speed,” said Adi Pinchas, a founder. (Eliran Rubin)