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World-leading researcher in sport management appointed new Director of UC Research Institute for Sport and Exercise

Emma Larouche

24 October 2023: Professor Aaron Smith, an expert in the business and management of sport, will join the University of Canberra in the role of Director of the Research Institute of Sport and Exercise (UCRISE).

Professor Smith is currently the Director of the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Professor of Sport Business and Innovation at Loughborough University, London. He is from Melbourne, has lived in the United States and has worked extensively across Asia, the Middle East, and Europe before spending the last six years in London.

His qualifications include a Bachelor of Applied Science (Hons) and two doctorates, the first in change management in sport, and the second in cognitive science. He has authored over 100 academic articles in a diverse range of journals and has published 25 books, his most recent book is titled Football on the Brain: Why Minds Love Sport.

Professor Smith’s appointment will bolster the Institute’s twin priorities of optimising performance of athletes and teams and safeguarding integrity in sport.

“I’m interested in how sport’s social and economic dimensions have collided and how sport has transformed from idealised amateurism to a hyper-commercial juggernaut,” Professor Smith said.

“At the same time, I try to explain how sport fans think and why they display a loyalty to their sports, teams, and clubs that is virtually unmatched.

And, increasingly, at the intersection of those four domains is a radical and generational shift in technology, providing sport with an extraordinary array of opportunities and challenges, including new and emerging threats to sport integrity.”

On home soil, Professor Smith previously worked at RMIT, La Trobe and Deakin universities. World-wide, he has been a consultant to more than 150 clients including multi-national corporations, professional sporting clubs, national and state sport associations, media and technology companies, sport and entertainment facilities and events, and government.

“My experience has gifted me with a global perspective of sport but has also revealed how pockets of Australian expertise are punching above their weight,” Professor Smith said.

“UCRISE is a great exemplar of an Australian research concentration with world-beating capabilities, packed with researchers at the top of their fields, and supported by an institutional ambition to be renowned for sport.”

Faculty of Health Executive Dean Professor Michelle Lincoln said Professor Smith will bring extensive experience in establishing and growing partnerships with government and sport organisations.

“We’re excited to embark on the next chapter of UCRISE under the leadership of Professor Smith, who will build on the Institute’s strengths as a sport and exercise science powerhouse, driven by a talented multidisciplinary team of researchers,” Professor Lincoln said.

Professor Smith is due to commence his role in mid-January 2024 with a focus on finding new opportunities for the research teams and students associated with the Institute and developing ‘innovation ecosystems’ with prominent local, national, and international industry partners.

“We’ve seen an exponential growth in the business of sport, and it’s yielded a radical transformation in the industry, from sport broadcasting and fan engagement to wearable technologies and esports,” he said.

“It’s a brutal competitive landscape, but it’s also created a breathless environment where sport often sets the benchmark for innovation to relentlessly drive performance.

“UCRISE is at the vanguard of sport performance innovation, and will be a leader in advancing sport management and integrity to protect the value of sport for participants’ and fans’ health and welfare.”

Photo supplied.