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M’sia is ramping up sports innovation. Here’s what to know about NTIS SportTech Sandbox.

[This is a sponsored article with MRANTI.]

Here at Vulcan Post, we’ve reported on plenty of technological developments in sectors like edutech, healthtech, dronetech, and even artificial intelligence (AI).

But one industry that we rarely see crop up with new and exciting innovations, is sports.

In fact, research in the Journal of International Studies (Issue 8) highlighted that many Malaysian businesses struggle to maximise the opportunities in sports development. This can be attributed to insufficient R&D facilities, networking opportunities, and government support.

Things might soon change though, following the launch of the SportsTech Sandbox at the National Technology and Innovation Sandbox (NTIS) set up by Institut Sukan Negara (ISN) recently.

What is the SportsTech Sandbox?

The SportsTech Sandbox was officially launched on November 28, 2023, following its prior activation in 2021.

It’s a programme under the Malaysian Research Accelerator for Technology and Innovation (MRANTI) as the lead secretariat, and Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI).

The aim is to foster sports innovations and advancements to meet the changing needs of athletes and sports enthusiasts.

Think of the sandbox as a testbed where entrepreneurs and developers can R&D, as well as test their prototype products and services in a controlled regulatory environment before implementing them on a larger scale.

At NTIS, innovators are also provided with access to capacity-building programmes, networking opportunities with local and international stakeholders, funding, and even IP patent and trademark facilitation.

The goal of the SportsTech Sandbox is to encourage local talents to create sports-related innovations and use these technological advancements to build up local athletes.

Why is all this so important for sports?

Ahmad Rizal Azwir, NTIS’s Senior Manager, highlighted two reasons: performance optimisation, and more efficient rehabilitation and recovery processes.

He elaborated that using precise data collection and analysis can enable athletes and coaches to identify strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement. This data-driven approach can help in optimising training routines, techniques, and strategies to maximise performance.

One local startup that’s attempting to aid in this area is Genomas Sdn Bhd (Genomas). It’s a biotech company utilising DNA and genome processing to identify and personalise data-informed recommendations for sports talents.

This would also help athletes when it comes to their rehabilitation and recovery processes. Data analytics can analyse an athlete’s specific injury and recovery patterns to create personalised rehabilitation programmes.

“Genetic-based talent scouting is relatively novel in Malaysia,” said Rizal. “While some Western countries apply it selectively in elite sports, China has implemented it nationwide to detect ‘special talent genes’.” 

Rizal elaborated that genetic data utilisation has yet to be commercialised sufficiently in Malaysia and SEA. “This is due to limited infrastructure, insufficient funding, the absence of commercial incentives, and a general lack of awareness regarding its significance,” he told Vulcan Post.

Furthermore, the development of more sports advancements in Malaysia could benefit the country on an economic scale. This is particularly so in the area of exporting Malaysian-made sports products, as well as hosting global sporting events in the country, such as the Formula One Grand Prix, the Olympics and the World Cup.

Following the SportsTech Sandbox’s launch at NTIS, this test bed can provide the resources to support and advance the local sports industry.

Hence, tech companies that are developing sports-related technologies are encouraged to get directly in touch with NTIS. The agency is looking for practical solutions that could address issues on a national scale.

NTIS’s SportsTech Sandbox is welcoming all types of sports-related developments, including traditional sports from badminton and basketball, to modern ones like esports and even drone racing.

Connect with NTIS here.Read other articles on Malaysian startups here.

Also ReadSick of mistakenly buying fake products online? TikTok Shop has a solution for M’sians.

Featured Image Credit: MRANTI

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