NEW YORK (Jan. 11, 2024) – A-Champs announced today that it has been selected by Major League Soccer to be a part of the inaugural year of MLS Innovation Lab. The new program will shape the future of sports through the identification of cutting-edge startups and advanced technologies to help develop the next generation of athletes, enhance the fan experience, and drive continued growth for MLS and its Clubs. Officially kicked off in December at MLS NEXT FEST in Arizona, MLS Innovation Lab is the latest initiative from Major League Soccer, which has been recognized as a global leader in innovation.
A-Champs has developed an interactive training system that helps players of all skill levels to improve soccer specific cognitive-motor skills and technical abilities. In modern soccer, rapid information processing, quick decision-making, and precise execution are imperative. Employing sensor pods and interactive rebounding walls emitting light and sound signals, the A-Champs system prompts players to quickly perceive, make fast decision and swiftly react just like in a game. It measures interactions, providing objective data via the A-Champs App, creating a gamified, motivating training environment.
A-Champs was selected to be part of the program’s inaugural cohort following a rigorous evaluation process which vetted hundreds of companies. Through MLS Innovation Lab, all companies within the cohort will have the chance to test their products in real-world environments throughout the MLS ecosystem, including events such MLS NEXT FEST, Generation adidas Cup, MLS NEXT Cup and the MLS NEXT All-Star Game presented by All-State, among others.
“Being chosen among the top innovative soccer tech start-ups worldwide and joining the MLS Innovation Lab program makes us proud,” said Kilian Saekel, A-Champs CEO and Co-Founder. “We already have a strong presence in European soccer, now we are super excited to work together with the MLS to empower millions of young US soccer players to reach their full potential.”
The League’s forward-thinking approach is the driver behind the creation of MLS Innovation Lab. MLS recently formed an unprecedented ten-year partnership with Apple that reimagined how soccer fans consumed games – with no blackouts and all matches on a single platform. The 2023 season also saw the start of Leagues Cup, a partnership with Liga MX and Concacaf, the first in-season tournament by a major professional league in North America. In recent years, MLS has been at the forefront of video review in soccer – with the MLS Video Review program later mirrored by other leagues around the world – and MLS was the first major men’s league in North America to return to play during the COVID-19 pandemic when it hosted the MLS is Back tournament in 2020.
“Major League Soccer strives to be the front porch of innovation for the sports industry," said Gary Stevenson, Deputy Commissioner of MLS and President of Soccer United Marketing. "In that spirit, MLS Innovation Lab provides a truly unique offering in global sports. We are really looking forward to working with A-Champs. Our 2024 cohort places a spotlight on some of the most exciting tech startups from around the world, and we eagerly anticipate their impact on the sport in the years to come.”