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St Kilda Football Club teamed up with Monash University to develop a digital tool that personalises tailored sleep profiles designed to improve health, performance and recovery.

Challenge

St Kilda Football Club (STKFC) is a Melbourne-based sports team SME with a history stretching back to 1873. The business relocated to RSEA Park in Moorabbin with stage 1 of the facility completed in 2018 and stage 2 currently under construction. As part of stage 2 there will be areas dedicated to mental health and performance.

STKFC developed a strategic partnership with Monash University in 2019 underpinned by a research-based program for sleep and performance. Supported by an AusIndustry Entrepreneurs’ Programme Innovation Connections grant, this program also fostered a relationship to support the club as a match day partner for an annual game in China. This initial project allowed STKFC to develop a deeper understanding of how sleep and chronobiology research can contribute to the business’ success and sparked the need for further investment into research and development.

STKFC thrives on the performance of its athletes and manages their health, fitness and wellbeing to maximising individual and team performances. Sleep and circadian disruptions are major issues for athletes and the broader community, with inadequate sleep (timing, quantity and quality) being some of the most easily recognised symptoms associated with poor performance. However, sports organisations and the general public do not have access to high-quality validated tools that can personalised chronobiological and sleep interventions to aid performance, health and recovery plans.

Solution

This project has engaged Dr Facer-Childs (Sleep and Circadian Rhythms, PhD) aided by a SIEF Ross Metcalf STEM+ Business Fellowship grant to develop a digitally assisted data-driven tool which can produce personalised profiles and tailored sleep/circadian based interventions designed to improve health and performance.

The development of this product will have immediate financial benefits to the STKFC through improved performance and reduced sleep-health related costs across the men’s and women’s football programs. The product will also have immediate applicability across different sports, supported by new research partnerships in development between STKFC and Melbourne Storm as well as the WNBL team Southside Flyers.

Results

The tremendous impacts of COVID-19 became evident soon after commencement of this project with effects on team sports and travel. The agile teaming of St Kilda FC and Dr Facer-Childs supported by Prof Shantha Rajaratnam and Monash University allowed the project to pivot to research the effects of COVID-19 and lockdowns on sleep and mental health of athletes across the club and the community. This work has now been published in the leading journal in sleep research.

The project team was also able to work with the Monash Business School to enlist the help of a Global Executive MBA student cohort to conduct a market opportunity review for St Kilda FC and gain valuable insight into the pathway for development of the digital tool. The core focus of the research continues in parallel and has increased momentum as we adapt to post-COVID-19 paradigms.

During early 2021, Dr Facer-Childs and her team ran a large sleep research study with all male and female STKFC athletes. This substantial data collection during the pre-season of the AFL, along with the data gathered during 2020, will allow the development of new algorithms that will feed into the digital tool.

High quality research is being conducted with the backing of an academic institution which would otherwise not be possible for us to do. It allows the Club to increase the effectiveness of the football program by utilizing scientific data it otherwise would not have the capabilities or resources to procure.

Simon Lethlean, Chief Operating Officer, St Kilda FC

  

The program is allowing me to develop both research and industry related skills, as well as giving me unique exposure to different environments and networks.  This has created the opportunity to expand my research program, attract PhD candidates and secure additional funding. I am really enjoying working at the boundary of academia and business which enables the direct translation of knowledge into practice.

— Dr Elise Facer-Childs, SIEF Ross Metcalf STEM+ Business Fellow, Monash Universityr Elise Facer-Childs, SIEF Ross Metcalf STEM+ Business Fellow, Monash University

 

This program is supported by the Science and Industry Endowment Fund (SIEF).

For further information and to apply, please get in touch with our dedicated STEM+ Business Manager.

Mr Jason Barkla

SME Business Manager (STEM+ Business) (SERVICES)

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