Irish sports tech firm scores renewal deal with Newcastle United

Orreco also hires the man who secured Nike contracts for LeBron James and Kobe Bryant

Dr Brian Moore of Orreco: “Our ultimate aim is to build the world’s first artificial intelligence  coach”

Dr Brian Moore of Orreco: “Our ultimate aim is to build the world’s first artificial intelligence coach”

 

Orreco, the fast-growing Irish sports tech firm, has signed multiyear contract renewals deals with Premier League team Newcastle United and an unnamed US National Basketball Association side worth approximately $1 million (€860,000) in total.

The company, whose client list includes 35 Olympic medallists, has also hired Ralph Greene as its new general manager for its US operation. Mr Greene joins from Nike where he initiated contracts with US basketball superstars including LeBron James and Kobe Bryant.

Orreco, a finalist in last year’s Irish Times Innovation Awards, uses machine learning and data analytics to monitor, the health of athletes, helping to accelerate recovery, optimise performance and prolong careers.

It profiles athletes based on biomarkers in the blood and then feeds this information into machine-learning programmes that can optimise training conditions. This includes identifying the best sleep patterns, the best diet, training intensity and duration.

“By looking at biomarkers we can spot when an athlete is going to get sick the day before they do,” said co-founder and chief executive Dr Brian Moore.

The company has profiled more than 2,000 athletes in Formula 1, on the PGA tour, and with players and teams in the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, the English Premier League and Olympic sports.

Service for athletes

“It is exciting to have signed the contract renewal deals because they show that we are adding value for our clients,” said Dr Moore.

He set up Orreco with co-founder and consultant haematologist Andy Hodgson in Sligo in late 2009, although the research work related to the company dates back more than 16 years. Dr Moore did a PhD on what made a world-class athlete and he began running a service for athletes including Sonia O’Sullivan at the time of the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

In an Irish Times article published last year, Ms O’Sullivan credited Dr Moore and Orreco as having helped resurrect her career prior to that Olympics, at which she won a silver medal in the five thousand metres. Other sports stars to have championed the company include golfers Pádraig Harrington and Graeme McDowell, and racing driver Max Chilton.

In February, Orreco raised $2 million (€1.7 million) in a Series A round earlier this year led by the Silicon Valley-based True Ventures, one of the earliest backers of wearable device maker Fitbit. Other backers of the company include Tom Killalea, former vice president of technology at Amazon.

New app

Last year, it teamed up with IBM on its billion-dollar super computer Watson to build a new app. A few months ago the company also introduced its first consumer product called FitrWoman. It is the world’s first app designed to tailor exercise and nutrition recommendations to a user’s menstrual cycle.

Currently, the company is focused on enabling amateur athletes to use its full system.

“Right now our technology is for use by elite athletes but our ultimate aim is to build the world’s first artificial intelligence coach that will be available to everyone. It will essentially be an Olympic coach in your pocket” said Dr Moore.

The company employs 30 people, over half of which hold PhDs. Collectively, the team has published more than 300 peer-reviewed scientific papers. Orreco is continuing to hire and expects to take on up to 10 extra data scientists before the end of the year.

The Orreco technical team has also expanded to include Dr Andy Barr, former head of performance at the New York Knicks and Manchester City, Dr Ara Suppiah, team physician to the winning 2016 US Ryder Cup team.