Encouraging innovation in sport


Armelle Daam, Director General of the National Centre for the Development of Sport (CNDS)


The National Centre for the Development of Sport (CNDS) is a national public body under the responsibility of the Ministry for sport. It contributes to sport funding in France.



2018 is a significant year in the context of the changing direction of CNDS missions and also because in 2019, it will be integrated into the national structure to be charged with bringing together and overhauling performance in top level sport and developing sporting practice.

When it comes to developing practice CNDS funding goes to “hardware”: it concerns reducing inequality by supporting the construction and renovation of sport facilities in disadvantaged areas (over 1 billion euros have been invested since 2006). The CNDS also intervenes by supporting educational, civic, health, and disability projects and projects involved in combating discrimination… and in constructing a real social programme around the 2024 Olympics.


That is what the CNDS “Legacy and Society” heading is all about: it needs to encourage projects from the traditional stakeholders, but also from emerging social-sporting networks, with the idea of providing impetus and covering every geographical region. There are three main focuses: facilitating and widening the range of multisport practice, developing equipment for persons with a disability, and accelerating and incubating innovative sporting projects, supporting them as they change in scale.


Almost 230 projects have been submitted and examined by two juries composed of representatives from the sport sector, local authorities, digital innovators (Le Tremplin), the social sphere (Sport and Citizenship Think Tank, the Canaux), and partners (CGET, Agence du service civique), and about one third of the projects have been approved. They will receive funding (up to 80% of the total cost) and methodological guidance; some of them will obtain French Impact certification, promoted by the High Commissioner at ESS (social and solidarity economy) and social innovation.

Of course, there is still room for improvement in this acculturation to innovation in all its aspects (digital, technological, functional and so on), but some innovative projects have already been identified: a hand-bike which can be adapted to the morphology and health needs of its users; 3D gloves for functional rehabilitation for doing sport, etc. In the much more multifaceted area of innovation and widening the range of practices available, some remarkable initiatives have been put forward concerned with integrating refugees, using sport as a means to economic inclusion, digitalisation and “zero waste sport” projects.


Work on networking and communicating is required in order to encourage synergies between federations and sport clubs and associations, research laboratories, and private and public businesses, because dialogue and knowledge in this sphere is still fragmented. The next step is the selection of sport-health “liv-labs”, new places which are cheap to produce but very valuable for supporting and following up innovative practices. Our objective is to grasp the opportunity provided by digital technology and use its fun aspect to attract, among others, those members of the community who are the least likely to do sport.

Sport et citoyenneté