Ten start-ups from seven countries have been selected to participate in the first Techstars SportsTech Melbourne Accelerator, a venture backed by Tennis Australia.

The project is a joint initiative between Tennis Australia; US seed accelerator Techstars; LaunchVic, a body formed by the Victorian government to encourage the local startup ecosystem; and Victoria University. It is focusing on early-stage sports technology companies that aim to disrupt and drive innovation in high performance sport, grassroots participation, as well as event and media technology.

Close to 200 start-ups from more than 40 nations applied to be a part of the program, of which 20 were selected to take part in a selection process held during this year’s Australian Open in Melbourne. This list has now been whittled down to the following 10 companies: MODU, ELANATION, Swing Vision, Snapscreen, A-Champs, str8bat, Gamesense, Fitmind, TENX and MyFavorito.

The accelerator has attracted some high-profile names in the world of sports business to act in an advisory capacity. They include Nick Crocker, general partner of venture capital fund Blackbird; Javier Sobrino, chief strategy and innovation officer of FC Barcelona; and Gareth Capon, CEO of video editing firm Grabyo.

Mentors and industry leaders will work with the 10 companies on their projects to get them to a market ready state. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the accelerator will now be run virtually, with the official start date set for June 1. The 10 companies will be provided with Techstars programming, mentor connections and other resources between now and when the project begins.

“Creating opportunities to grow our sport and connect more people to our events has been a strategic priority for Tennis Australia for many years,” said Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley. “This partnership with Techstars is an obvious next step as we look to drive more innovation and interest in the game for the benefit of those watching and playing it at every level.

“As we all do our best to navigate this global COVID-19 crisis, now more than ever, we need to rethink how we do things in a in a different world, and with an array of new challenges.”

Tennis Australia head of innovation, Dr Machar Reid, added: “To have so many high quality submissions from around the world to choose from was beyond our expectations when we announced the Techstars SportsTech Melbourne Accelerator in July last year.

“During the Australian Open in January we selected 10 companies to take part in the Accelerator. The founders hail from various backgrounds including serial entrepreneurs, artificial intelligence and automotive engineers, sport science professors and ex-athletes. The Accelerator looks set to be a game changer across the tennis world and for Tennis Australia to lead this project is amazing.”