Dentsu, the international advertising and PR group, is taking an active interest in Japan’s sports sector as it aims to benefit from useful data and open up new revenue streams.

As reported by Campaign Asia, the company announced earlier this month that it had joined forces with Scrum Ventures, a US-based venture capital firm, to establish a global mentor-driven accelerator programme aimed at helping start-ups to develop the latest sports technology.

Called Sports Tech Tokyo, the initiative has a wide remit in terms of supporting innovation in sports and it follows a commitment by the Japanese government to grow the country’s sports industry to 15.2 trillion yen ($133.8bn) by 2025.

Fumihiko Nakajima, Dentsu’s senior director of business development, told Campaign Asia that the programme also aims to position Tokyo as a global hub for sports technology.

And that by helping companies in the sector to develop applications in other industries, such as entertainment and health, there also could be “a lot of opportunities” for Dentsu’s own business.

While the Sports Tech initiative is not directly related to Dentsu’s advertising business, he said the company is exploring ways to manage fan engagement, an area of marketing it has not previously covered, and that working with companies that develop new technologies for sports fans could garner large amounts of useful data.

Examples as yet unconnected to Sports Tech might include systems enabling micro-sponsorship of sports teams or smart clothing that could send data about an athlete’s movements to insurance providers.

He listed three main areas that Dentsu wanted to develop with the start-ups that wish to participate in the programme. The first is technology to help athletes in their training, both physical and mental.

Secondly, Dentsu wants to improve the viewing experiences for audiences, which could include innovations in the field of virtual reality. Third, there are also opportunities to improve technologies at stadiums, such as smart payment systems.

Commenting on Dentsu’s plans, Ko Fujii, CEO of public affairs consultancy Makaira, said it made sense for the company to “diversify into other forms of tech-based sports watching, which can be integrated with many new forms of business models and revenue streams”.

Sourced from Campaign Asia; additional content by WARC staff