Sligo-based Orreco partners with IBM for Watson sports app

Elite sports firm will develop ‘Coach Watson’ app to help teams and players avoid injury

Irish elite sports firm Orreco is to partner with IBM on its billion-dollar super computer Watson to build an app that will help sports teams to make decisions on training and treatment for their star athlete to avoid injury and maximise performance.

The Sligo-based firm, which is backed by golfers Padraig Harrington and Graeme McDowell, will use data covering 15 years of sport and more than 1,700 elite athletes in the app, called Coach Watson. The company has developed methods to analyse blood, identifying biomarkers that can help monitor performance.

Using the data from Coach Watson, coaches and teams will be able to find detailed information on medical research, and quickly answer questions on games schedules, player sleep, nutrition data, recovery, injury and fatigue.

IBM Watson has been dubbed a computer with a human brain. It can process large amounts of data quickly, can understand questions in natural language and provide evidence-based answers.


"Orreco is committed to providing holistic solutions to athletes as quickly as possible in order to help them excel while protecting them from potential illness and injury," said Orreco CEO Dr Brian Moore.

“Through IBM Watson’s ability to put real-time sports science in the hands of performance teams, this partnership greatly enhances the speed at which our insights can be delivered to our clients, thereby improving the power, potential and competitive edge of the whole athlete.”

Orreco was founded in 2010 by Dr Moore and Dr Andrew Hodgson, and works with sports stars from Harrington and McDowell to Premier League football team Newcastle United. It also works with Formula One teams, and NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball teams in the US.

Among its early backers are Enterprise Ireland, Harrington and McDowell, former VP of Technology at Tom Killalea, Pa Nolan of Fexco and former group MD of Glanbia, John Moloney, who is chairman of the board.

“In professional sport there is absolutely no shortage of data. It’s everywhere. The challenge always is in making the data collected actionable,” said Harrington. “Combining Orreco’s insights and IBM cognitive computing will make for a very powerful tool and I can see Coach Watson becoming an invaluable resource for coaches and athletes alike. “

US-based Nike Oregon Track Club Elite will be the first club to work with Orreco and Coach Watson, using the app to help devise individual training and plan for competitions and recovery.

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist