Enterprise Ireland and IRFU develop new partnership to accelerate the development of Irish sport tech companies

28th June 2022

Four people at announcement about IRFU new partnership
Keith Brock, Senior Development Adviser, Enterprise Ireland, Lucy Mulhall and Stacey Flood, Ireland Women’s Sevens players, Stephen McNamara, Director of Communications, IRFU

Enterprise Ireland has developed a new partnership with the IRFU which will enable Irish innovators and start-ups in the sport tech sector to get access to the international sporting organisation at an early stage of their product or services development.

This strategic partnership will run for two years and is designed to support Irish companies by giving them access to a unique evaluation environment to trial, test and validate their products in an elite sports organisation.

This collaboration will also support Irish rugby to gain a competitive edge by engaging with the technology community, who are developing innovative solutions in the sport tech sector, at an early stage which will support Irish rugby’s technology transformation.

As part of this new partnership, Enterprise Ireland will provide expertise to the IRFU on the adoption and implementation of technology and innovation from Irish-based firms under each of their technology pillars.

In particular, the partnership between the two organisations will focus on addressing a number of key areas, including;

  • Innovative means of increasing rugby participation while promoting health and safety
  • Digitalisation to enhance fan engagement and emersion
  • Technology to increase the preparation and performance of players
  • Climate Sustainability across IRFU, Provinces, Clubs and Stadiums

Enterprise Ireland is committed to nurturing Irish entrepreneurial talent and this partnership with the IRFU will foster the growth of these Irish start-ups and their cutting-edge solutions. This collaboration will also serve to further enhance the ecosystem which supports the growth of these innovation firms, by engaging with the industry, third-level research and the wider sports tech sector.

As part of this collaboration, a number of Enterprise Ireland clients will be selected each year to work with the IRFU. The IRFU will not be an investor, but will support these companies in validating potential technologies through access to rugby and sport expertise.

Enterprise Ireland and the IRFU will issue a ‘technology call’ later this year, and eligible companies will be able to register their interest. Successful candidates will be invited to participate in the programme for nine months.

Keith Brock, Senior Development Adviser, Enterprise Ireland, said:
“Enterprise Ireland is delighted to be working with the IRFU on this strategic partnership. Ireland is known globally as a tech hub, and increasingly global business is turning to Irish innovators for solutions. Sports tech is an important part of this sector. This collaboration will further this growth and has the potential to open new doors for innovative Irish entrepreneurs and their companies.”

Stephen McNamara, Director of Communications, IRFU, said:
“We are pleased to work with Enterprise Ireland on this project. Technology has been assisting sport for decades and works across all of our business areas. Working with up-and-coming Irish companies is something that we are also extremely excited about. Wearing the green jersey off the pitch is as important as wearing it on it, and we hope to help accelerate the progress of these Irish businesses.”

Scott Walker, Director of Strategy and Technology, IRFU, added:
“We have been working with Enterprise Ireland to bring about a symbiotic relationship for the furtherance of expertise in the area of technology for the betterment of sport. We hope to work over the next years with companies who are part of the Enterprise Ireland family on some exciting areas. Our approach is one of open collaboration and we want to learn from some of the great tech’ minds that are developing exciting opportunities and looking beyond the current capabilities to improve, learn and develop. This was a perfect matchup, and IRFU look forward to collaborating with Enterprise Ireland in promoting and developing Irish Technology and Innovation.”

Note to Editors

About Enterprise Ireland:

Enterprise Ireland is the Irish Government's trade and innovation agency. We invest in the most innovative Irish companies through all stages of their growth and connect them to international customers across multiple industries.
Our goal is to build successful, long-term business relationships between international companies and Irish partners. With 40 offices worldwide, Enterprise Ireland's teams of industry experts consult with international businesses to understand and solve their business needs.

About the IRFU:

The Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU), founded in 1874, is the governing body for Rugby Football on the island of Ireland and is responsible for all performance and development elements of Rugby, from the National Team and professional game cascading to the club, schools and community programmes.

For further information contact

Emma Jane Hade

Corporate Communications and Social Media

Enterprise Ireland

Emma Jane Hade

+353 87 775 8157