Sports Technology and Innovation Group

The Sports Technology and Innovation Group has been launched by Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to work with sport bodies to explore high-tech solutions to get fans back into venues.

The group will work closely with sports bodies and the SGSA to explore the whole ‘fan journey’ – from home to venue – such as fans’ travelling to and from stadiums, as well as reducing crowding both inside and outside those venues.

Call for ideas

The Sports Technology and Innovation Group launched a public call for ideas on 28 September which ran until 30 October 2020. The purpose of the call was to identify technologies and innovations on or coming to the market that might address the challenges identified by the Group across the fan journey.  These focused on: ticketing; pre-event build up; travelling to the venue; last mile and entry; inside the venue; and departure and post-event.

We are grateful for the many submissions we received, each of which have now been assessed. The most promising submissions have been shared with the relevant Sports Technology and Innovation Group members and may be trialed at future sporting events.   Due to the volume of submissions, we are unable to provide individual feedback; however, the SGSA thanks all companies that took the time and effort to submit their ideas.

Meeting summary notes

Meeting 3 – Tuesday 20 October

The meeting agreed the actions summary of the third meeting, and noted actions arising were either complete, in hand, or tabled for discussion at the meeting.

The DCMS Head of Sport encouraged the Group to continue to refine plans for a pilot programme.

The Secretariat provided an overview of the Group’s work to date, and each of the four sub-groups – fan engagement, technology, transport, and testing – outlined their respective work progress since the previous meeting and anticipated next steps.

James Bulley and Chris Coneally (Trivandi) gave a short presentation on proposals for mass testing pilots to enable a wide range of arts, business and elite sports events across to be staged with audiences at commercially viable levels. The Group recognised the importance of close liaison with this work programme to identify opportunities for the Group’s emerging recommendations to be tested at the earliest possible stage.

Professor Nick Pierce (ECB) gave a short presentation on latest international best practice in terms of staging sports events with spectators present that maximise venue capacity whilst also being COVID-secure.

The next full meeting of the Group was confirmed as 1 December, with the precise frequency and timing of subsequent meetings dependent on wider Government decisions associated with the resumption of pilot events.

Meeting 2 – Tuesday 6 October

The meeting agreed the actions summary of the first meeting, and noted actions arising were either complete or in hand, including the public call for ideas which launched on 28 September 2020.

The DCMS Head of Sport outlined Project Moonshot’s planned work to trial mass testing technology, and how that can complement the Group’s own emerging plans to trial innovative products/services.

The ECB’s Director of Strategy gave a short presentation on recent research and development work and outlined four emerging themes on which to base future research, pilots and recommendations to Government: testing; technology; transport; and responsible fans.

In discussion, the Group agreed with the proposal to establish four sub-groups – one for each of the identified themes.  In parallel, the SGSA agreed to convene a fifth sub-group to identify the events/venues best suited to staging pilots to test emerging products/services and engage with relevant central and local Government decision makers.

The Premier League’s Chief Medical Officer gave a presentation on current PL work on Digital Passports and Testing Trials. The Group agreed next steps to seek to deliver more such field work in the coming weeks as the Group starts to trial emerging ideas and innovations with fans.

Meeting 1 – Thursday 24 September

The meeting agreed the purpose and vision of the Group, the membership and the terms of reference.

The ECB’s Director of Strategy gave a short presentation on the challenges associated with the return of greater capacity crowds at major sporting events during the COVID-19 pandemic, covering all aspects of the spectator journey – before, during and after an event.

In discussion, the Group agreed in principle to the development of a series of problem statements to articulate the challenges clearly. The Group further agreed that the problem statements should be used to frame a public call for ideas as soon as possible to identify potential new technologies and other innovations.

The SGSA Secretariat agreed to act as a clearing house for all ideas received, including from individual Group members, with shortlisted ideas shared with the group as they become available. The Group recognised that such an approach was vital to support iterative and incremental working over the coming weeks, as the Group provides ongoing advice to Government on how to enable the safe return of fans to live sport.


The members of the Sports Technology and Innovation Group:

  • Chair: David Ross (co-founder of Carphone Warehouse and Non Executive Director of the British Olympic Association)
  • Professor James Calder (Sports medic, DCMS advisor)
  • Natalie Ceeney CBE (Vice Chair of Sport England and Chair of Innovate Finance)
  • Professor Nick Gent (SAGE Spi-M, epidemiologist)
  • Gary Hoffman (Chair, Premier League)
  • Derrick McCourt (General Manager, Customer Services, Microsoft UK)
  • Sally Munday MBE (Chief Executive, UK Sport)
  • Professor Jonathan Van-Tam (Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England)
  • Shashi Verma (Director of Strategy and Chief Technology Officer, Transport for London)