As some of you may know, AST recently hosted its first ever partner summit: Futureproofing Sports in Asia. For an inaugural event, we couldn’t have asked for a better mix of professionals that are as passionate about and committed to the Asian sports, esports, health and wellbeing industries. The summit saw leading experts from the sports industry share their valuable insights across six panel discussions and two snapshot presentations. This week, we take a look at the key takeaways from the day:
Snapshot Presentation 1: From Aerospace to Sports Tech – Innovation is the Future of Sports in Asia:
Prof. Xin Zhang: Chair Professor of Aerospace – The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology set us off on the day by sharing how modern universities are now viewing sports as an ideal platform for scientific and engineering research.
Prof.Zhang demystified the immense technology transfer from Aerospace to sports tech in sports like motorsports, cycling, and windsurfing.
Panel 1: The Greater Bay Area (GBA) – Championing the Future of Sports in Asia
🎤 Henry Kerins: CFO – East Asia Super League
🎤 Gary Wan: Co-Founder & MD – Hybrid Group Limited
🎤 James Irvine: GM – Commercial – Kai Tak Sports Park
The Greater Bay Area is set to become the engine for growth in sports across Asia in the coming years. Loron began the session by highlighting the importance of the GBA’s infrastructure and opportunities for the sports industry.
Henry introduced the Bay Area Dragons, the GBA’s very own professional basketball team, and how the GBA has provided opportunities for EASL to grow. Gary introduced the exciting new concept of HYROX and his expansion plans in Asia. He also spoke about the importance of the GBA’s infrastructure in opening up new business opportunities. James highlighted the importance of diversified media consumption to attract the right target groups for a large stadium complex like the Kai Tak Sports Park.
Panel 2: Youth, Seniors & Participation – Reengaging Youth and Seniors: Leveraging Sports to Power Education & Participation
Steered by Stephane Mottaz, Former Head of Services – European Club Association (ECA), the panel featured:
🎤 Hugo Jehlen: CEO – DECATHLON HONG KONG
🎤 Brendon Ferguson, CPA, CA CEO – TheProgram.ai
🎤 MJ Jimenez: Regional Market Manager – Steelcase
🎤 Oscar Wong: Co-Founder & CEO – Move It – Global
Sport has a big role to play in supporting youth and seniors to stay fit physically, mentally, and emotionally. The panel discussion emphasized the importance of leveraging sports to power education and participation. Stephane set the context of how education through sports could prove to be key in tackling increasing youth inactivity, rise in obesity, and an aging population.
Hugo shared how Decathlon empowered people in Hong Kong to get active during the pandemic. Brendon spoke of how Theprogram.ai has built features that make social media and mobile gaming sticky to gamify fitness for children. Oscar showcased how Move It is helping through connected fitness equipment and A.I. to track physical activity for children and seniors alike. MJ emphasized the role of design in putting health & wellness at the center of new facilities.
Panel 3: ESG & Purpose – Defining Purpose: Futureproofing Businesses Through Sports
🎤 Fabien Paget: Co-Founder & CEO – 17 Sport
🎤 Genevieve Hilton: Sustainability Advisor (Formerly Lenovo + BASF)
🎤 David Simmonds: Chief Strategy, Sustainability & Governance Officer – CLP
🎤 Thomas Vogel: Business Director Asia– ALBA Berlin – ALBA
Tina set the stage by underlining the importance of integrating purpose and sustainability into sports sponsorship strategy, with a focus on governance, data, and communication to drive long-term value and positive impact.
Fabien highlighted the importance of defining purpose in sport and sport being used as a force for good with fans and consumers demanding more than just bottom line results from stakeholders. Genevieve talked about the etymology of ESG and how it continues to evolve. David spoke about how sustainability offers a game-changer while contributing to a better future. Thomas emphasized that if athletes can try to get better day by day—so can our larger society.
Panel 4: Sports Finance – Private Equity Powering Sports in Asia & the World
Moderated by Veronique Lafon-Vinais: Associate Prof. Dept. of Finance – The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, our high profile Sports finance panel consisted of:
🎤 Andrew Huang: Head of Cross-Border & Tech/Growth Investing – FountainVest
🎤 Bill Powell: Managing Director – Black Lab Sports, LLC
🎤 David Kahm: Director Combate Global, LLC & Managing Partner – Serica Capital
Veronique started us off by introducing the role of private equity in powering sports in Asia and the world.
Marco showcased macroeconomic trends in the region inc. demographics, and later touched on Regulatory/legal challenges in investing in this industry in Asia with some country specific issues. Bill spoke about cutting edge trends like ai in sports and longevity tech and the interconnectivity amongst sports tech, health and wellness tech. Andrew masterfully dissected the role of family businesses/offices/money aligning on the above mentioned trends along with views of prospects for this industry in China and the best approach. David analyzed the martial arts industry at length and highlighted trends in this part of the business, especially funding structures for the region: equity (VC/PE) v. debt v. hybrid capital.
Panel 5: Sports Tech: Supercharging Sports in Asia
Jean-Baptiste Roy (Founding Partner – Asia Sports Tech), chaired our fascinating Sports Tech panel, and he was joined by:
🎤 Dr. Raymond SO: Director, Elite Training Science & Technology – Hong Kong Sports Institute
🎤 Philippe Moity: Founder & President – Kinomap
🎤 Kenny Oktavius: Co-Founder & CEO – PointFit Technology
🎤 Rainer Duespohl: Founder & CEO – TrailMe
Jean-Baptiste delved into the transfer of technologies and innovation from elite athletes to everyday consumers. The panel discussed how COVID has accelerated the adoption of technology in sports and how it can supercharge the Asian sports ecosystem.
Dr. Raymond provided key insights into Hong Kong professional sport’s increasing uptake of technology. We also heard about the ‘gold rush’ in adoption of sports tech from 3 leading sports tech founders: Philippe, Rainer & Kenny. With insights from founders from different areas of sports tech, the panel proceeded to take a deep dive into the challenges and opportunities for sports tech to supercharge the Asian and global sport ecosystems.
Snapshot Presentation 2: The Future of Sports Tech is in the Materials
Thibaud Brunel, Senior Advisor at Asia Sports Te
ch and Founder of TB Solutions Ltd, discussed the future of sports tech materials and sustainability.
With fascinating real-world examples, Thibaud showed us how the traditional model of product innovation had become disconnected between brands in the west and their Asian manufacturing partners during Covid and this has paved the way for even more innovative materials and processes in Asia. He concluded the session with a taste of current and future trends in the industry, and highlighted how innovation and advanced manufacturing are important for sustainability, recycling, and biomaterials.
Panel 6: Tech & Web3: How Web3, Esports, & Creators Will Write The Future Of Sports
Adil Saxena (VP – Growth at Asia Sports Tech) moderated an eclectic panel comprising of:
🎤 Xiao (Sean) Zhang: Co-Founder & CEO – TALON
🎤 Souleymane Wague: Co-Founder – Karmine Corp
🎤 Erich Wong: Head of Growth – The Sandbox
Adil kicked off the final session of the day by underlining the need for traditional sports to learn from engagement and monetisation strategies pioneered by WEb3, Esports and Creators.
Erich helped us understand how Web3 empowers individuals by giving back ownership to fans. He dived into how the Sandbox is actively helping Sports IPs and brands create richer fan engagement, interaction, decentralized market experiences, NFT linked rewards, and more. Sean dissected how esports is reaching consumers that traditional sports may not be able to, and how Talon’s partnership with PSG is breaking barriers. Souleymane spoiled us with key takeaways from his first-hand experiences building a massive esports community in a short time by bringing digital engagement to the real world, demonstrating how younger generations interact with entertainment.
With the conclusion of these 8 back-to-back sessions, FSIA was in the books. To the ones who were there – THANK YOU for making FSIA so successful! To the ones who weren’t – we’ll be back with something bigger before you know it!
Please reach out to us to discuss any of the topics that we explored during the summit, and let’s explore how we can work together to futureproof sports in Asia!