Loughborough University: Headset training system Jukes wins LUinc. Sports Tech pitching competition

A training system which enables coaches to communicate with athletes through a headset rather than shouting over distance has won the first Sports Tech pitching competition, hosted by LUinc, the University’s incubator.

Jukes’ headset and radio communication system uses bone conduction to enable athletes to be communicated with in real-time.

The system is used on land and underwater to correct and improve technique and can also be used by deaf athletes.

Jukes went into the pitch having already demonstrated demand by distributing headsets to more than 200 clubs in 13 countries around the world.

It now wants to develop an improved V2 system, with innovative new features which address feedback from its customers.

A panel of Loughborough University experts selected Jukes from a shortlist of six finalists after LUinc. long-listed 23 initial applications.

Businesses from around the world had applied to take part in the contest and the chance to work with the world’s leading university of sports-related subjects.

The final six presented their ideas to leaders from Loughborough Sport, School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, Sports Development Centre, Sports Technology Institute and Institute for Sport Business.

Panellists were looking for a winner with a strong business proposition, real potential for growth, progress made so far, and scope for useful Loughborough support. The winner was Buckinghamshire-based Jukes, which was founded pre-pandemic and uses bone conduction to deliver audio from coaches, leaving ears free to hear environmental noise, improving safety above water at up to 750m away.

Founder Nicolai Thomson said:

“Jukes has been like a mustard seed since we launched to make bone conduction technology available to small swimming clubs. We’ve watched a transformation of swim coaching for the benefit of young swimmers around the world, including an EU country training with Jukes for their Tokyo 2021 Olympic campaign.

“Being selected is going to help us reach more athletes and coaches in different sports globally. It’s the research capability that attracted us to LUinc., as we want the industry to better understand how to increase sports participation amongst the deaf, blind and autistic community and I can’t think of a better partner.”

Other finalists included a mobile-first platform for locating and paying match officials, an AI solution to modernise decision-making in sport, and a next generation injury protection system.

Jukes has won a 12-month membership with LUinc., the University’s incubator for graduates, academic spinouts and external founders with innovative ideas.

Pete Hitchings, manager of LUinc. said:

“Our community is made up of ambitious entrepreneurs working on innovative ideas and actively supporting each other to succeed. Whilst one business was selected, we hope to stay connected with everyone who participated.”

Panel member Mike Caine, the University’s Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor for Sport and Professor of Sports Technology and Innovation said:

“Congratulations to Jukes! The panel were impressed by their highly inclusive technology, mission-driven vision, and ambitions to manufacture in the UK. Loughborough University has built a thriving sport technology and innovation ecosystem.

“Working with start-ups on innovative products / business models helps us to stay responsive to industry trends whilst also supporting businesses to attract investment, create jobs and add value to society. All the pitches were strong – a great showcase. Thanks to all that participated!”

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