The health and fitness-centric launch is in accordance with figures that show the UK is experiencing a physical inactivity “epidemic” that costs £20bn a year and causes 37,000 deaths. Of course, the fitness market has changed over the years, with technology transforming the marketplace. A fine example of a device that’s changed the game is the Fitbit, a US-launched wearable that tracks the user’s daily activity. As a result, ActiveLab is seeking health and fitness startups with “truly innovative products and services that will shape the future of the health and physical activity sector”. The accelerator will run over a period of 12 weeks, ensuring startups’ developments are scalable. Entries are open to companies at varying stages of investment, from bootstrapped to funded, but the important criteria is demonstrable monthly growth. Whether they comprise data, social media, virtual reality or something else entirely, ActiveLab is determined to “augment these new opportunities to produce pioneering health solutions” and forge global success stories that can follow the likes of Fitbit. Steven Ward, executive director of ukactive, said: “The aim of ActiveLab is to help scale innovation through access to and expertise from ukactive’s 4,000 members, industry mentors, plus our private sector and government partners. “The programme brings together the most highly networked collection of private investors in health and fitness ever, as well as an unprecedented amount of talent and experience. “Our goal is to unearth the UK’s first health and fitness unicorn and become the global launchpad for innovative and scalable physical activity businesses.”
ActiveLab boasts Tech City UK and healthcare insurer AXA PPP as partners, while mentors and coaches include senior figures from the health and fitness industry. David Lloyd Leisure deputy chairman and former CEO Scott Lloyd, Fitness First investor and serial entrepreneur David Giampaolo and Lara Morgan, founder of hotel supplier Pacific Direct, are all on board. “The confluence of fitness and technology means that there are huge opportunities for meaningful innovation in this space,” said Lloyd. “ActiveLab will aim to inspire a new generation of physical activity startups who can fundamentally change the way we get active. Physical inactivity will be one of the major global challenges of the 21st century and I can’t wait to hear from the exciting group of finalists who may hold the key to the solution.” Gerard Grech, CEO of Tech City UK, added: “Following the most successful Olympics this country has ever had, there’s no better time for innovation in this area and solutions which encourage a more active nation. “Digital technology is transforming almost all traditional industries and this programme will help startups in this sector amplify their products and connect with larger organisations aiming to capitalise on that transformation.” 20 finalists will be announced on 23 November and the ActiveLab programme will conclude on 15 March with an event that brings together speakers and partners from across the health and fitness and tech industries.
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