Woodbine Entertainment Group and partners plan to launch a new initiative that will challenge Canadian start-ups, entrepreneurs, developers, and students to use technology to help bring horse racing to the next level.
Woodbine is partnering with iBoost and Ryerson University's Office of the Vice President-Research and Innovation for Horse Racing 3.0: Changing the Game. The program will seek new and innovative product solutions to help drive sustainable growth and revenue within the horse racing industry.
"At Woodbine, we are continuously looking for ways to modernize our industry to ensure a sustainable future for horse racing in Ontario and gaming is a key piece of the equation," said Jim Lawson, chief executive officer of WEG. "Our plan in leading the industry is to develop ways to reach and engage a younger demographic. We are excited to partner with Ryerson (University) and work with Canadians pushing the boundaries of technology in traditional industries that help transform our sport for generations to come."
Kicking off on Sept. 23, participants will engage in a 1.5 day long "Design Jam" where they will work with WEG staff and mentors to develop their initial ideas. Teams will then have three months to refine their idea into a commercially viable Proof of Concept. During this stage, teams will be asked to participate in bi-weekly workshops to meet with mentors and set growth milestones. Teams that meet their milestones will be invited to present their solutions to a panel of judges for a chance to be selected as the top team.
During the program participants will receive dedicated workspace and work alongside mentors, as well as WEG's innovation team to help drive their product forward. Teams will be given access to data from Woodbine to help prototype their developments, as well as briefings to understand the industry, challenges and opportunities.
"This is a unique opportunity for people to innovate the traditional sport of horse racing and work with mentors over an extended period of time to develop their ideas, as opposed to the typical 1-3 day hackathon," said John MacRitchie, senior director, business development and strategic planning at Ryerson. "Horse Racing 3.0: Changing the Game is a program dedicated to providing the time and support required in the prototyping phase to set people up for optimal success. We are excited to be working with Woodbine to bring this program to life."
A total of $21,000 in cash prizes will be divided among the top three teams along with an eight-month enrollment in Ryerson's iBoost incubation zone. Teams will also have the opportunity to make connections with prospective customers, partners, industry experts and investors and potentially enter into a pilot agreement with WEG.
"Our goal at iBoost is to connect the best talent with industry challenges," said Dr. Rafik Loutfy, director of the Centre for Engineering Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Ryerson. "This opportunity will help entrepreneurs develop creative solutions that would be relevant for the horseracing industry and accelerate their time to market."
More information, including application details and eligibility, is available at www.hr3.ca. The deadline for applications is Sept. 24.