The Jockey Club, the largest commercial group in British horseracing, and Channel 4, the exclusive UK terrestrial television broadcaster of the sport, are partnering for a government-funded digital innovation contest with the aim of increasing understanding and appreciation of racing in the UK.
The 'IC tomorrow Digital Innovation Contest – Sport', a Technology Strategy Board digital innovation programme, aims to support the UK technology sector by offering £125,000 in funding to all-comers, spread across five sport industry challenges.
The Jockey Club, which owns 15 racecourses including Aintree, Cheltenham and Epsom Downs, and Channel 4, which broadcasts 88 days of racing a year, the most terrestrial TV coverage of any sport, are delivery partners in the 'Sport appreciation and understanding' challenge. This is based on a shared view that innovations and digital technologies can help to aid people's understanding and enjoyment of horseracing, whether they are new to the sport or to add to the experience for the most passionate racing fan.
While it is hoped the output of the IC tomorrow challenge will help to 'demystify' racing, the sport is enjoying something of a renaissance. British racing's most iconic events, such as the Cheltenham Festival, Grand National Meeting, Investec Derby Festival and Royal Ascot, have never welcomed larger paying crowds and today horseracing is the second most attended sport in the UK with circa 6 million spectators annually, placing it behind only football.
Research conducted by Populus, commissioned by The Jockey Club, suggests the sport has doubled its popularity levels, with 20% of the UK adult population saying they are interested in horseracing in 2013, compared to 10% three years ago.
"We’re looking for innovation that can help to make it easier for people to understand and enjoy horseracing as an incredible sport, not just a great day out," said Scott Bowers, Group Director of Communications, The Jockey Club. "Racing is already the country’s second largest spectator sport, with the most terrestrial TV coverage of any sport, but technology can help to demystify racing and add to its appeal, without in any way dumbing it down. A better use of data or a new innovation could also add to the experience for the most knowledgeable racing fan, so it’s exciting to think of the possibilities this challenge could inspire."
"We’re on the lookout for technology that will enhance our broadcasts and deepen the engagement and consumption for viewers," said James Rutherford, Channel 4’s Multi-platform Commissioner for Sport. "Our strong preference is that it offers enhanced mobile presence around racing, video functionality, data or developing the on-course experience."
The other challenge partners for 'IC tomorrow Digital Innovation Contest - Sport' are BT Sport (Driving in-play viewer engagement), Loughborough University (Personalising sport performance), UK Sport (Tracking athlete health) and the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games (Engaging the live stadium audience).
IC tomorrow’s Programme Manager Matt Sansam said, "A key aim of the ‘Digital Innovation Contest – Sport’ is providing winning applicants with the chance to work with and benefit from the experience of some of the UK’s most established sporting brands – and the associated networking opportunities this will entail.
"It’s not necessary to have an existing app or service or to be currently active in the sports industry – but proposed solutions must have the potential to appeal to a wider commercial market and must address the contest challenges."
All contest entries must be submitted online by noon on Wednesday 14th August 2013. A briefing event will be held on Wednesday 17th July 2013 in London and the contest final is scheduled for Wednesday 11th September 2013.
Notes to Editors
More information about the contest including how to apply is available at: https://connect.innovateuk.org/web/digital-innovation-contest-sport
Independent research conducted by Populus (www.populus.co.uk) for The Jockey Club in June 2013 with a nationally representative sample of 2,053 adults (aged 18+).
Contest Briefing Information
The briefing event is free and attendees are invited for all or part of the briefing. A live webinar will be held for anyone who is unable to attend in person.
When: Wednesday 17 July, 2.30 - 6pm
Where: Innovation Warehouse, 1 East Poultry Avenue, London, EC1A 9PT
Register at: http://bit.ly/sportbriefing
About IC tomorrow
IC tomorrow is a Technology Strategy Board programme that stimulates innovation and economic growth across the UK's digital sector, by breaking down barriers and opening doors for Britain's brightest entrepreneurs. The programme serves as a hub for digital innovation, connecting start-ups and SMEs with leading commercial partners and investors across the UK, through funded contests, events, mentoring sessions and strategic matchmaking opportunities. The IC tomorrow network is free to join and supports supports innovation across a variety of industry sectors including music, publishing, games, film, TV, culture, advertising, fashion, education, sport, healthcare, finance and accessibility.
For more information please visit www.ictomorrow.co.uk
About the Technology Strategy Board
The Technology Strategy Board is the UK’s innovation agency. Its goal is to accelerate economic growth by stimulating and supporting business-led innovation. Sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the Technology Strategy Board brings together business, research and the public sector, supporting and accelerating the development of innovative products and services to meet market needs, tackle major societal challenges and help build the future economy.
For more information please visit www.innovateuk.org
About The Jockey Club
The Jockey Club has been at the heart of British horseracing for 263 years and today is the largest commercial Group in the sport. Its interests include:
The group stages four of the five 'Classics' of Flat racing (the Derby and the Oaks at Epsom Downs and the 1000 Guineas and 2000 Guineas at Newmarket), as well as the Cheltenham Festival and the Grand National at Aintree.
In accordance with its objectives in the Royal Charter, The Jockey Club reinvests its profits in British racing and promotes measures to sustain and enhance the long-term success of the sport. For more information, please visit www.thejockeyclub.co.uk.
About Channel 4
Channel 4 is a publicly-owned, commercially-funded, not-for-profit public service broadcaster and has a remit to be innovative, experimental and distinctive. Its public ownership and not-for-profit status ensure all profit generated by its commercial activity is directly reinvested back into the delivery of its public service remit. As a publisher-broadcaster, Channel 4 is also required to commission UK content from the independent production sector and currently works with over 400 creative companies across the UK every year. In addition to the main Channel 4 service, its portfolio includes: E4, More4, Film4, 4Music, 4seven, channel4.com, video-on-demand service 4oD and standalone digital projects.