betahausX and Werder Bremen team up for AI sports tech overhaul

One of Germany’s oldest and most iconic football clubs, Werder Bremen, has decided to implement the latest tech solutions towards digitizing player performance and injury prevention data. The club relied on betahausX to undertake a multi-phased approach in transitioning the company’s operational practice and outlook in regard to technology. The partnership resulted in Werder Bremen acquiring the services of exciting companies in a field that spans AI and performance data and metrics.

Challenges

  • Preventing athlete injuries
  • Building own ecosystem for innovation
  • Being ahead of the sports tech and AI game

Outcomes

  • Werder Bremen’s management is fully up to date with the progress made by AI and predictive analysis in the field of sports
  • The club successfully laid the foundations for developing an internal innovation unit
  • The club has continued access to experts in AI, including companies that develop need-based solutions

The Journey

In the past several years, big football clubs began implementing technological solutions that utilize optics, tracking, data processing, predictive analysis and artificial intelligence. The change in outlook and strategy follows a general trend in capital increase and expenditure in the club football industry. 

For a perspective of the latest on the subject, professional football in Germany has had average growth of 8,6% annually and there are about 7.1 million individuals working in the field, however, with the rise in investments and profits also comes the need to mitigate challenges and risks. 

For example, one area where technology has been utilized is athlete injuries. These can be quite costly as they put players off the field and disrupt the hard-earned team chemistry that professional clubs want to nurture in their midst. 

Data from the post-lockdown continuation of the 2019-2020 Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga seasons have shown a rise in the average rate of injuries per game. The pre-lockdown average of injuries per game was 0.27, however, the post-lockdown grew by nearly half, to 0.56. The total cost of the injuries that have occurred in Europe's leading football clubs during the first year of the pandemic was a staggering €472.6m. 

Another challenge that presents football clubs with an opportunity is how to make young talent acquisitions before they emerge in the focus of competitors, as well as athletes whose performance marks notable improvement. All of these are challenges that have compelled some of the most eminent football clubs to transition into the high-tech end of sports management. 

Football club Werder Bremen partnered with betahausX to respond to the need of implementing such technology. 

Our team developed a program that would enable the club to implement smart technological solutions and catalyze internal change so that the organization can utilize the technology and contribute with its own innovation. 

In order to successfully manage the process, betahausX created a comprehensive roadmap of discussions, meetings and ecosystem sourcing that will enable Werder Bremen’s executives and managers to understand the transformational dynamic ahead of discovering technological solutions. 

We organized a full day of meetings where board members and senior managers gathered insights from experts in organizational/corporate innovation and tech innovators and entrepreneurs with inside knowledge of the AI ecosystem. Several startups presented their products and solutions and how these can become ingrained in the context of sports management. 

Based on this experience, Werder Bremen and betahausX proceeded to establish WERDER LAB - a physical place that became the catalyzing platform for the club’s internal innovation. 

The lab led to adjusting the club’s outlook for technology, preparing it for the transformation and discovering and onboarding the right technological solutions.

Our team developed a multi-pronged scouting methodology and communications assets for the tech/AI ecosystem to attract companies that may potentially fit the criteria. 

We relied on a variety of models and personal engagement with experts and innovators to source the interest of startups, scaleups and companies that have viable solutions.

The result of our campaign was 300 applications, an exciting pitching competition, onboarding 40 of the club’s employees and creating organizational capacity for internal innovation. This enabled us to move to the next phase: hosting the Werder Lab pitching competition and ultimately, pairing Werder Bremen’s management with prospects from the industry. 

Ultimately, three companies advanced a successful Proof of Concept which marked a milestone from where Werder Bremen could work on implementing their technological solutions.

Conclusions

betahausX collaborated closely with a world-famous football club from Germany to discover technological solutions for its challenges and prepare the organization for the onboarding process. In this experience we utilized our vast international network and combed through hundreds of companies to arrive at a list of 100 potentials. Following group discussions, an ideation process, business to business meetings and an exciting pitching competition, we can say that Werder Bremen is on its way to implement high tech solutions that will give it the desired edge in the dynamic world of German football.