Industry puts hopes on start-ups to find the next big innovation

Industry puts hopes on start-ups to find the next big innovation

Wednesday, July 8, 2015
William Hill has launched its new Accelerator Programme

The industry’s focus on supporting start-ups is continuing to gain momentum after UK bookmaker William Hill launched a new Accelerator Programme.

With GamCrowd having already adopted a central role in supporting emerging businesses within the sector, William Hill’s initiative also aims to stimulate innovation by providing start-ups with resources, advice and investment.

Crispin Nieboer, the Director of Corporate Development and Innovation at William Hill’s Shoreditch office and the executive sponsor for the WHLabs technology accelerator initiative, said: “In an open, competitive market like online betting and gaming there will always be those coming up with breakthrough innovations which can generate additional value or disrupt existing models.

“As an industry we have not, perhaps, been very good at communicating with smart innovators, and harnessing their ideas. There have, though, been major innovations in our industry.

“If you look back at the emergence of in-play, P2P exchanges, mobile, single sign on, cash in my bet, five-minute markets, gamification and wearables, it’s clear that tech-led innovations which provide customers with better experiences continue to drive major growth.”

The new WHLabs technology accelerator is on offer through a partnership with technology entrepreneur Stuart Marks’ investment fund L Marks, with up to eight tech start-ups having the opportunity to earn a place on a 12-week programme from September to December 2015.

Each start-up will be supported with an initial investment of £25,000, mentoring and office space in either William Hill’s digital innovation hub in Shoreditch, East London, or in its Tel Aviv office, a marketing services hub for William Hill’s global activities.

As part of the programme, the start-ups will have an opportunity to win a further investment of up to £150,000. There are six different entry categories – Thrill of the ride, Omni channel, Technical efficiencies, Player funnel, New products and Surprise us – and companies can apply at www.williamhilllabs.com until July 26.

“The programme launch comes off the back of our wider innovation programme, where we set up our in-house innovation team in Shoreditch, held global in-house ‘hackathons’ utilising our internal APIs, and most recently launched our developer site and external API programme at www.developer.williamhill.com,” Nieboer added.

“The Accelerator Programme forms the next logical step in this process, to help ensure we collaborate with the very best entrepreneurs and early stage businesses in the industry, to help grow the value of our business in the long term.

“Our hope is that the Programme will improve our dialogue and interaction with early stage tech businesses, help us drive the value of the best start-ups we meet in a short timeframe, and by integrating their products within our business, help transform their businesses and our own.”

Nieboer will be a key figure at EiG, which will take place at Arena Berlin from October 20-22, as a speaker and as a mentor to start-ups in pre-arranged one-on-one sessions in the Start-Up Village.

Support of start-ups and encouragement of innovation has been part of the fabric of EiG over recent years, and Clarion Events, in partnership with GamCrowd, announced last month that they were inviting applications for the 2015 EiG Start-Up LaunchPad competition through to August 30.

The final of the LaunchPad, which attracted a record number of more than 30 entries last year, will feature between four and six companies pitching to a panel of expert judges. The finalists will also be given a complementary stand at the Start-Up Village during EiG.

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