This weekend saw a first for Swansea City as the football club embarked on its first hackathon venture alongside Swansea University.
Over 50 university students, who currently study a myriad of subjects from geography through to computer science, took up the challenge and opted to give up their weekend to work with the club to answer a technology driven brief, which was:
‘In an industry where shirt sponsorship is the biggest single source of commercial income for a sports club, conceptualise a technological innovation that could drive new or increased revenue to the club so this could potentially become the biggest commercial asset to the club moving forward.’
Hackathons, while evident in many other industries, are relatively new within the football landscape with Manchester City, Chelsea, Bayern Munich and - more recently - AZ Alkmaar in Holland undertaking them.
The Swans are the latest club to add their name to the list.
Building on the club’s emerging reputation for digital innovation, the Hackathon format allowed just 48 hours for the students to devise a pioneering solution that has the potential to generate club revenue and push Swansea City to the forefront of the tech innovation arena; allowing it to benchmark itself against other tech savvy clubs adopting the tech disruption mantra.
The students also took the challenge out in the field and attended the Swansea City v Millwall fixture in a bid to identify snags in real-time and quick wins to remove obvious match day barriers for fans.
The students’ final pitches included strategies to improve match day entertainment and consumer access to service points, as well as focusing on improving fan experience through purchasing solutions and seating enhancements using modern technology.
All participants considered the framework needed to execute and deliver their suggested innovations with these spanning across marketing strategy and tech development, right through to engineering solutions.
Mark Davies, Swansea City's global head of partnerships and sales, said: We couldn’t be happier with the application of everyone involved in our inaugural event.
"As a club that identifies a need to behave and grow differently to other teams, innovation will always be at the forefront of our operations.
“While the brief was related to technology, what really impressed us was the ‘hive’ mentality of the students in the room. They brought a different, younger and fresh way of thinking that only people from outside our environment can.
“What they worked on and presented to us given the brief, the short time frames and no previous inside knowledge of our industry, was of a real high standard, and they were a credit to the university.
“Moving forward we will be exploring the possibility of incubating some of the concepts that won as well as future Hacks related to other parts of the business.”
Kelly Jordan, entrepreneurship officer at Swansea University, added: “The experience our students gained from creating innovative solutions to real-life problems provided by companies will be invaluable for their development.
“We’d like to thank Swansea City for collaborating with us on this challenge and welcome collaboration from other businesses in the region.”
Swansea University is enjoying its first official partnership with the Swans, one which is built on a strong strategic working relationship, be it student opportunities around the first-team, shared resource, core branding, media and marketing internships. This latest event will certainly strengthen this bond.