Three companies each win $50,000 in live sports-technology start-up showdown as the National Football League (NFL), Comcast NBCUniversal and Mayo Clinic announced the three winners of 1st and Future, the NFL’s annual Super Bowl start-up competition designed to spur novel advancements in athlete safety and performance. Three companies—Impressio, Inc. of Denver, Colorado, RecoverX of Mountain View, California and Curv.ai of Toronto, Ontario—each received $50,000 to further develop their innovations. Each company also won two tickets to Super Bowl LII on February 4.
The live pitch competition took place at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, where nine finalists competed in three categories—Advancements in Protective Equipment, New Therapies to Speed Recovery, and Technology to Improve Athletic Performance. Scott Hanson of the NFL Network and host of NFL RedZone emceed as the companies pitched their game-changing technologies to an exclusive audience comprised of NFL team owners and executives, medical experts and representatives and guests of the Minneapolis Super Bowl Host Committee and Mayo Clinic.
During the program, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Chairman of NBC Broadcasting & Sports Mark Lazarus, Mayo Clinic President and CEO John H. Noseworthy, M.D. and Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson participated in a panel discussion about the role of innovation in sports.
Participants faced off in front of a team of judges that included:
· Amy Banse, Managing Director and Head of Funds for Comcast Ventures
· Jonathan Finnoff, D.O., Medical Director of Mayo Clinic Square, Sports Medicine Center in Minneapolis
· Courtney Hall, Managing Director, Hillcrest Venture Partners, former NFL player
· Justin Kaufenberg, Co-Founder and CEO, SportsEngine
· Laurie Locascio, Ph.D., Vice President for Research, University of Maryland
· Eric Sugarman, MS, ATC, Director of Sports Medicine and Head Athletic Trainer, Minnesota Vikings
· Jennifer Wethe, Ph.D., Neuropsychologist for Mayo Clinic Arizona Sports Neurology and Concussion Program
Finalists included the following start-up companies (with a summary of each start-up’s product or service, as described by them):
Impressio utilizes liquid-crystal elastomers (LCEs) to create novel dissipative liner materials for protective equipment designed to overcome the existing challenges of energy absorption in current helmet foams.
Element is a connected device that can achieve the optimum cold or hot therapy temperatures without any ice or water, designed to allow users more freedom for their therapy.
· Cartilage Repair Systems LLC—New York, NY
CartiONE aims to advance the treatment of cartilage injuries using a patented process to create new cartilage from a patient's own cartilage and bone marrow cells in a single surgery with the goal to shorten recovery times.
Curv is an athlete development platform that leverages patent-pending computer vision and augmented reality to transform the camera on any mobile device into a versatile tool that captures human motion, measures athletic abilities and evaluates injury risk.
Xensr’s Konect Sports technology is an end-to-end 3D-motion tracking, training and quantification system designed to provide real-time athlete performance data and train athletes to have faster reflexive responses.
Minneapolis-based SportsEngine Inc., a division of Comcast NBCUniversal’s NBC Sports Group and the leading youth sports technology provider, served as a home base for the competing companies during the week prior to the 1st and Future competition. Together, NBC Sports Ventures, Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs for entrepreneurs and SportsEngine administered the competition.