The 3rd edition of the Tennis Industry Innovation Challenge — a “Shark Tank”-like competition to identify the most innovative and creative product or service in the tennis industry — took place last week during the Tennis Owners & Managers (TOM) Conference in Charleston, S.C.
The winner was Tweener Lighting, a unique LED lighting system that attaches to existing fencing around tennis and other sport courts.
Presented by the Tennis Industry Association (TIA), the Innovation Challenge took place on April 9 during key tennis industry meetings at Wild Dunes Resort. Three companies, which had been selected from 20 overall applicants for this Innovation Challenge, each gave a five-minute presentation on what makes their tennis product or service special, unique and important to the growth of the sport.
Based in France, Tweener Lighting System (www.tweener-lighting.com), CEO Florent Colliau presented to the panel of five judges and to a tennis industry audience, and even plugged in and turned on one of the LED lighting bars that attaches to the top of the fence surrounding a court, eliminating the need for separate lighting poles or “masts.”
Colliau said the benefits of the patented outdoor lighting system are the lower cost to buy, install and operate; the “plug and play” ease of installation, in many cases just one day per court; lighting with no shadows and no glare, even on high balls; and design integration with the fence itself.
“Winning this competition is very big for us,” Colliau said after the competition. “This will give our product more legitimacy. We are recognized by the French Tennis Federation, and now we’ve come to the U.S. as a top innovation in the tennis industry.”
Colliau also exhibited the Tweener Lighting System in the Resource Center at the TIA’s TOM Conference.
“What I like about Tweener is that they took something that has been an accepted way of doing things and looked at it in a different way, and that to me is innovation,” said Dr. Stuart Miller, senior executive director of the International Tennis Federation and one of the judges for the Tennis Industry Innovation Challenge. “Innovation is just as much about improving an existing system as it is inventing something new.”
The other two finalists in the competition were Armbeep, a portable motion-analysis device that helps players and coaches, and PlayByCourt, a community-based, two-sided online platform that facilitates the process of booking lessons, court times, and clinics for tennis players.
As the winner of the Tennis Industry Innovation Challenge, Tweener Lighting System received a $1,000 cash prize, in addition to a national news release to about 2,000 media outlets with a potential audience of 30 million consumers; coverage in Tennis Industry Magazine; a membership in the TIA; and other benefits.
Plans are in the works for the next Tennis Industry Innovation Challenge for January 2019 in Orlando, Fla.
For more information about the TIA, the TOM Conference and the Innovation Challenge, visit www.TennisIndustry.org.