We build on the sustainability, credibility and future-proofing of equestrian sports by objectifying sporting performance and wellbeing.
At EquInnoLab. we follow the vision to become a globally unique and leading knowledge and innovation centre for equestrian sports since 2016. Accessible to everyone. We love the sport as it is and we do not want to change it. We do however, want to make the sport more understandable and parts more trainable.
At the wheel of the company are Jenny Schreven and Alain Broft. Alain did not grow up among horses, but started riding horses while studying industrial engineering. He worked for the World Bank and as an industry consultant when he met his partner Jenny. At this point, Jenny already has her well-known dressage stable in Weert. They became interested in the combination of the specifics of Alain’s profession and horse riding. In industrial engineering, people are predicting, measuring, monitoring and automating a great deal. On the other hand, Jenny is the sister of the embedded scientist of the world famous innovation centre for swimming. Therefore, she was raised together with a movement scientist, which always broadened her interest and made her develop herself as much as possible as a rider, a coach and a dressage judge.
Together, they soon wondered why you couldn’t measure certain things in equestrian sports. There was always a standard answer: in the equestrian sports that is not possible, because you are dealing with a person and a living animal-being, a horse. But that only triggered them more, because in industrial engineering, people also have to deal with uncertain factors in the industry. They spoke with athletes and coaches of all levels and searched for scientific articles: “It is very disappointing what has been researched. If there is anything, it is almost always not representative. In equestrian sports it comes down to everything being visually assessed and that you are actually paying to the person who is explaining something to you. The performances are hardly objective and much from the tradition. The need to understand the sport more and make it sustainable was their drive to start EquInnoLab.
At the beginning we started with a small, but already professional team. We believe in the empowerment of our team by combining all types of backgrounds, ranging from our coaches, to movement scientists or mechanical engineers. The work we do is in the fundamental research domain, as well as in applied research working towards innovative products and services. We very promptly got awareness and acknowledgement of our work, and have been able to work with multiple subsidies for the development of sport-specific measurement systems. And maybe more importantly, making all knowledge tangible through educational services and accessible services for all equestrian athletes, coaches and officials.
In 2020, EquInnoLab. got accredited as an official Sportinnovator-centre. Sportinnovator-centres are meeting places where researchers, entrepreneurs, governments and sports organisations structurally work together on innovations. The Sportinnovator program is led by the Top Team Sport and is supported by ZonMw and the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. Currently, a professional team and very intensive collaborations with important stakeholders in the equestrian sports is EquInnoLab.’s pride.
Our centre currently fulfils four roles: Fieldlab, Research Centre, Training Centre and Education Centre.
The definition of a Fieldlab is as follows: “A practical environment in which companies and knowledge institutions develop, test and implement solutions in a targeted manner, as well as an environment in which people learn to apply these solutions. A Fieldlab also strengthens connections with research, education and policy on a specific theme.” A Fieldlab is a business-driven innovation environment, where mainly applied research takes place.
Because there is little fundamental research on equestrian sport, and the bulk of the existing research is mainly focused on veterinary research, EquInnoLab decided to also conduct fundamental research in equestrian sports. Namely, to be able to develop applications or engage in co-creation with the manufacturing industry in the sector, a scientific knowledge foundation must be developed for the sport.