Stadium transport solution scoops top prize in Reimagine Football contest

Start-ups Fynch Mobility and Social Brothers have been named the winners of a sustainability challenge launched through Reimagine Football, a scheme backed by the likes of UEFA and City Football Group.

Fynch Mobility and Social Brothers’ solution seeks to rewards fans for using sustainable transport to stadiums and emerged victorious among 11 other finalists. The winning submission analyses how fans travel before encouraging greener transport choices by rewarding supporters who opt to take them.

The proposal was one of 74 that were put forward by companies and start-ups worldwide to meet the challenge of providing smart innovations which make football more sustainable in two key areas: green mobility and circular waste reduction.

The Reimagine Football challenges are overseen by the Football Innovation Platform – a collaboration between UEFA, the Dutch Football Association (KNVB), Amsterdam’s Johan Cruijff ArenA, City Football Group and Dutch Eredivisie club Ajax.

UEFA’s director of financial sustainability and research, Andrea Traverso, said: “The UEFA Innovation Hub has been a partner of the Football Innovation Platform since its creation in 2020. We want to leverage this platform to identify innovative solutions for the benefit of European football.”

Over the course of six weeks, the open innovation platform received submissions from 17 countries, with online football experts offering feedback to the applicants during the process. Football Innovation Platform representatives then chose 12 finalists who presented their solutions yesterday (Thursday).

“We are delighted with the outcome of this start-up challenge on the topic of sustainability as we were able to identify many innovative solutions that can leave a lasting impact both on UEFA’s activities and European football as a whole,” Traverso said.

The culmination of the start-up challenge follows last month’s announcement of a new sustainability strategy by UEFA and the European governing body’s director of football social responsibility, Michele Uva, said: “The technology pioneered by Social Brothers and Fynch Mobility enables us to tap into expertise that we and our football stakeholders can benefit from in order to collaborate and invest in football’s future sustainability.

“The winning submission greatly engages fans in UEFA’s journey laid out in our Football Sustainability Strategy 2030, which includes a strong focus on climate action and event sustainability through digital solutions enabling green mobility.”

Commenting on their victory, Fynch Mobility and Social Brothers said: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to be part of the UEFA Innovation Hub programme and to potentially develop a solution that aims to have an enormous impact in reducing CO2 emissions for the huge target group of football fans in Europe.”

UEFA said there were several other compelling proposals from the finalists, with the one from The Waste Transformers receiving special commendation. This solution takes organic waste generated by football stadiums and the surrounding community, converting it into compost, liquid fertiliser and energy.

The compost can then be sold to the local community, the energy is used by the stadium and there are ongoing tests to assess whether the fertiliser can be utilised to help grow the grass on the pitch. The Waste Transformers will also be able to explore collaboration opportunities with UEFA as part of its innovation hub programme.

In November, it was announced that sustainability innovations would be tested at Ajax’s Johan Cruijff ArenA this year as part of the Reimagine Football initiative. Promising innovations will be tested in Johan Cruijff ArenA and on the KNVB Campus in Zeist from the beginning of 2022.

Reimagine Football said the sustainability project at Johan Cruijff ArenA would be the first of three challenges that European football organisations will be organising in the coming year. Other themes are fan experience, and sports participation and performance.

Image: UEFA