A Qatar-based sportstech startup, sKora, has recently benefited from the Tech Venture Fund (TVF) of Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP), part of Qatar Foundation Research, Development and Innovation (QF RDI).
sKora’s unique product offering, Soccer Agency Recommender, uses its one-of-a-kind Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology to serve the vast population of aspiring professional footballers who do not have the means to afford or have access to obtain expert athletic career advice.
The product recommends to players aiming to pursue a career in football a potential pathway that they can follow. This reduces the complexity of the processes involved in recruiting them and makes the sport more accessible so that the next big stars of the game can be found quicker and set up to succeed.
sKora’s distinctive AI platform also stands out from the rest of the market as it was developed here in Qatar, as opposed to its competitors who are largely based in Europe. This gives footballers in the Arab world who are keen to make it big, perhaps in one of the major European or South American football leagues, a great springboard to launch their careers.
“Technological advancements in football have unlocked unprecedented opportunities for growth in the sports industry. The introduction of data into professional football has pushed us towards digitalising the sports agency business through automation and machine learning processes.
“Using our platform, customised AI-driven pathways are recommended for each player depending on their own skillset, traits, and situation away from biased views and opinions,” said sKora CEO Adel Saad.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup is a natural milestone for the company. By next year, sKora would have been able to scale and deliver a much bigger impact on the international and local football community. Until then, the startup is looking to use the FIFA Arab Cup Qatar 2021, which kicked off in Qatar on November 30, as a catalyst to grow its user base.
“The Arab Cup is our opportunity to put our tactics to the test. We are leveraging the event to run a programme, which will, for the first time, enable local and international footballers across the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region to join a trial with a Qatari football club and have an opportunity to be scouted,” Saad said.
The work of sKora’s dedicated team has already borne fruit via a recent partnership with Lusail Sports Club, which aims to provide young and aspiring players with an opportunity to demonstrate their talent during a three-day programme, the first of its kind in Qatar. The programme will present a chance for players to compete in a professionally immersive environment while receiving training from UEFA-certified coaches.
Saad said, “As an incubated startup, QSTP has been a massive support throughout our journey. After receiving the funds from TVF, we were able to recruit many aspiring and talented interns from QF partner universities, who have now become full-time employees at sKora.
“TVF has been instrumental in propelling our start-up forward, taking us from the angel investment stage to working in the institutional investment space. The funding is ultimately allowing us to accelerate both our product development and marketing operations.”
Saad added: “With the sports technology industry estimated to be worth $18bn (QR65.5bn) and expected to have a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18% between 2021 and 2026, sKora wants to be a key player in this particular game.”
QSTP’s TVF is a strategic venture capital fund designed to support local innovative startups and attract international ones looking to scale in the region. TVF plays a critical role in developing the innovation ecosystem in Qatar through the support it provides to startups, such as sKora.
The fund provides opportunities for local, regional, and global tech founders and entrepreneurs to source seed-stage funding and follow-on capital. It also seeks to lower the barriers of entry to starting a tech company in the market.
To apply and find out more about QSTP’s TVF, visit https://qstp.org.qa/tech-venture-fund/. To learn more about sKora, visit https://www.skoratech.com/.