Business / Tech

Japanese advertising giant Dentsu and U.S. venture capital firm tie up to boost sports technology sector

by Kazuaki Nagata

Staff Writer

Japanese advertising giant Dentsu Inc. and a U.S.-based venture capital firm plan to launch an accelerator program for technology companies engaged in the sports business around the world.

With the tie-up, the companies hope to facilitate the fusion between technology and sports, and also create business opportunities.

In January 2019, Dentsu and San Francisco-based Scrum Ventures will launch Sports Tech Tokyo, for which they will select 150 sports technology companies and provide mentors and opportunities to test their products, the two firms announced Wednesday.

Fumihiko Nakajima, senior director of Dentsu’s future business tech team, said investment in the field of sports has been growing globally, while the Japanese government is also aiming to spur the domestic sports industry’s growth.

“Along with the government’s efforts, we are hoping to foster (development of) the sports industry by creating ecosystems that enable various people and companies to join (the sector),” Nakajima said.

According to a Development Bank of Japan survey released in 2015, the nation’s sports market was worth ¥5.5 trillion in 2012. The government wants to push the figure to ¥15 trillion in 2025.

Sports Tech Tokyo is open to not only startups but also larger companies around that world that can come up with products based on the theme “play, watch, support sports.”

The first half of 2019 is set as a business development period, and participants are expected to demonstrate their work in July.

The program will eventually yield 10 to 20 finalist companies from the 150 participants. Those finalists will receive more opportunities, including matching with other firms, aimed at further developing their businesses.