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MLS Unveils MLS Innovation Lab: A New Era of Technological Advancement in Soccer.

Roger Hampel

MLS Innovation Lab
MLS Innovation Lab

Major League Soccer (MLS) has announced the creation of the MLS Innovation Lab, an initiative designed to redefine the landscape of soccer through technology and innovation. This program is an example of MLS's commitment to being at the forefront of sports innovation, focusing on developing the next generation of athletes, enhancing fan experiences, and advancing media technology. The announcement was made in New York on January 11, 2024.

This initiative positions MLS as a global leader in sports innovation, following its recent achievements, including a landmark digital streaming agreement with Apple and the successful launch of MLS Season Pass.

Revolutionizing the Game with New Technologies

The 2023 season saw significant advancements in the league, including the inauguration of Leagues Cup, a joint tournament with Liga MX and Concacaf, and the introduction of advanced live data feeds in partnership with Sportec for the MLS Season Pass. These strides are examples of MLS's innovative approach to enhancing the sport's appeal and accessibility. MLS Innovation Lab

Real-World Opportunities for Startups MLS Innovation Lab

The MLS Innovation Lab offers a unique platform for companies to test their products in real-world scenarios across various MLS events, such as MLS NEXT FEST and the MLS NEXT All-Star Game. This setup provides an unmatched breadth of testing environments, fostering rapid development and deployment of new technologies in the sport.

Inaugural Cohort: Global Innovators in Soccer Technology

From a rigorous selection process, six global companies have been chosen for the program's inaugural cohort. These companies represent a diverse range of technologies, from AI dubbing platforms to mixed reality fan experiences and advanced player tracking systems. The selected companies are:

  1. A-Champs (Spain): A cognitive and technical training system for athletes.

  2. CAMB.AI (UAE): An AI dubbing platform that translates content while maintaining the original voice and tone.

  3. Fabric (US): Offers gamified mixed reality fan experiences at live events.

  4. Fitogether (South Korea): A FIFA Preferred Provider for Wearable Player Tracking with centimeter-level data accuracy.

  5. Reeplayer (US): An AI camera solution for recording, live streaming, and monetizing soccer footage.

  6. STAIDIUM U.S. (US): AI-powered, 5G-enabled cameras with an OTT platform for live broadcasts and analytics.

Looking Towards the Future

Gary Stevenson, Deputy Commissioner of MLS and President of Soccer United Marketing, emphasized the league's ambition to be the epicenter of sports innovation. The 2024 cohort highlights some of the most promising tech startups worldwide, with MLS eager to see their impact on soccer.

After the testing phase, selected companies will have the opportunity to present to MLS executives and owners, potentially leading to long-term strategic partnerships and investment opportunities.

Joining the Revolution

For startups and tech companies eager to be part of this transformative journey in sports technology, MLS encourages them to learn more about the MLS Innovation Lab and consider applying for future cohorts.


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