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Future of Sport event set to forge connections between sport, sustainability, and technology

June 01 2023

Two major events are coming together in Paris this month to connect thousands of professionals from across the worlds of sport and technology.

Future of Sport, organised by VivaTech with Global Sports Week, will run from 14th-17th June at the Paris Expo Porte de Versailles and will bring together leaders and changemakers from across sports, technology, and business. The first major event collaboration between the international sports industry and the tech universe, it will be a key opportunity to drive sport sustainability forward, and to forge new connections between two major global industries.

Leaders and changemakers collaborate in Paris

Just 100 days before the Rugby World Cup and a year ahead of the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the city of Paris is well-placed to host important discussions about the issues facing the sports industry.

Both VivaTech and Global Sports Week have a track record of bringing together key industry professionals from across the world to connect and collaborate.

Global Sports Week held its first event in 2020 and this year will mark its fourth edition. To date it has hosted over 150 speakers from 98 nationalities, worked with over 60 partners, and attracted 2,000 sports leaders. The event has a clear focus on impact and solutions, and is ‘committed to establishing a more innovative and sustainable future for sport’.

VivaTech, too, is a major event that focuses on bringing together industry leaders on a world stage. Founded in 2015, Europe’s biggest startup and tech event has attracted over 90,000 international visitors, and focuses on connecting startups, corporations, investors, and leaders in the world of technology.

By working together, VivaTech and Global Sports Week hope that Future of Sport will generate real-world impact: the event is dedicated to ‘the positive transformation of sport’. For the sports industry, where a growing number of teams, organisations, federations, and athletes are turning their attention to sustainability, a focus on technology and innovation could be the key to finding creative solutions to growing problems.

‘One of the main challenges we have is how to help sports stakeholders to innovate,’ says Cedric Girard, Managing Director of Global Sports Week. ‘We thought that one of the best solutions was to partner with an event that already gathers with innovation energy—VivaTech already has that track record.’

Putting sustainability on the agenda

Global Sports Week has had a focus on sustainability since its conception in 2020. Event organisers work with a broad definition of sustainability, encompassing environmental, social, and governance, and emphasise the sport for good mission. Speakers and topics have always included a focus on issues including health, inclusion, accessibility, and, increasingly, climate.

This broad understanding of sustainability is a true strength of Global Sports Week, and has meant that past events have prompted wider discussions about the role of sport in driving change. ‘This has been a strong theme in our conference agenda,’ says Girard.

The 2022 event, held in Paris in May, focused on how sport can ensure growth while remaining sustainable and socially responsible. Discussions focused on topics including women’s sport, the sustainable impact of mega events, and sport for development.

Following the success of last year’s edition, this year’s collaboration with VivaTech will be an exciting opportunity to drive discussion even further, drawing on expertise and insight from the tech world.

Tech and sport come together for solutions

VivaTech and Future of Sport will kick off on Wednesday 14th June and conclude on Saturday 17th June. The first three days will focus on industry discussions, while the final day will open to the public. The wider event is set to welcome over 10,000 sports stakeholders and 100,000 tech and innovation experts, with visitors including federations, institutions, government sponsors, sports media, manufacturers, and athletes, as well as startups, investors, corporations, tech leaders, and tech and business media.

The topics to be covered are broad, but sustainability sits at the heart of the agenda. Themes range from performance and wellness, fan engagement, e-sports, and equipment to women and sport, social impact, accessibility, and new business models.

After an official opening talk by Lucien Boyer, President of Global Sports Week, the first day of Future of Sport will include discussions on using data for peak performance, the relationship between tech and para-athletes, and democratising sport through technology. On Thursday, speakers will cover topics including the upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup, athlete safeguarding, and creating circular models for sporting equipment and events, while Friday will see a focus on technology in sailing and the future of e-sports.

The speaker line-up reflects the international diversity of the event, as well as an emphasis on hearing from all corners of the industry.

Speakers will include athletes such as Clarisse Crémer, who has spoken widely about the ‘motherhood penalty’ facing athletes, and Julian Schütter, the Austrian skier and Protect Our Winters Ambassador who has lead the charge in demanding greater action on climate issues from FIS. Meanwhile, others speakers from international federations, major events, and sports media include Tony Estanguet, President of the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Ibrahima Wade, General Coordinator of the Dakar 2026 Youth Olympic Games, and Greg Nugent, Founder and President of Harder Than You Think.

The topics are wide-ranging, but an emphasis on sustainability runs through all of them. Girard estimates that 80 per cent of the conversations will be focused on sustainability in some way.

Critically, the collaboration with VivaTech means that speakers and visitors will be able to explore precisely how technology can be used to solve some of sport’s biggest sustainability challenges. ‘Technology brings brand new possibilities for people to connect and organise,’ says Girard. This does not just extend to new ways of managing waste, energy, and transport—although these areas are important—but also areas where technology may not seem to be the most obvious solution. For example, AI and mobile phone technology could help safeguard young athletes, while tech can also help mountain bikers or hikers to explore outdoor areas and practice their sport more safely.

Given the emphasis on sustainability, Global Sports Week and VivaTech have their own responsibility to reduce the environmental impact of the event. Large-scale conferences and events are notoriously difficult to hold in an environmentally sustainable way. However, by bringing two major international events together in one week, Future of Sport hopes to reduce visitor travel and the inevitable emissions associated with two major conferences. ‘One way to be more sustainable is to make sure that people have more to see at the same place,’ says Girard.

Meanwhile, VivaTech is working towards ISO 20121 certification, and organisers have implemented a waste management system for properly sorting and disposing of the event’s waste. Equity and diversity, too, are important elements for the organisers, and they hope the event will ensure a more inclusive and diverse tech sector by emphasising climate tech, femtech, and gender equality.

The future of sustainable sports events

Future of Sport provides a model for how major events from different industries can come together to further the conversation. By combining two major tech- and sports-focused events, organisers hope to ignite brand new conversations.

‘Our intention is to create connections that wouldn’t have happened otherwise—connections that drive change,’ says Girard.

The event also demonstrates how sustainability can run through a conference agenda even without an explicit focus. If industries are to truly drive sustainable change, this will need to become the norm.

‘The next stage of sustainability is to put it at the core of big sport events and the core of big innovation events, and that’s what we want to do,’ says Girard.

When leaders and experts from sports and tech descend on Paris later this month, they will show how collaboration and connection can help to ensure a sustainable future, for sports, technology, and the world beyond.

Anyone interested in attending Future of Sport can book a pass online here. Options include a Sport Leader pass, an Attendee pass, and a Startup pass. All three passes include access to both Hall 1 (VivaTech) and Hall 2 (Future of Sport).

You can also follow Global Sports Week on LinkedIn and Instagram.

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