Three companies each win $50,000 in live sports-technology start-up showdown
Minneapolis—February 3, 2018—The National Football League (NFL), Comcast NBCUniversal and Mayo Clinic today 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):
Advancements in Protective Equipment
Winner: Impressio, Inc.—Denver, CO (http://impressio.tech)
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.
Exero Labs—Chagrin Falls, OH (http://exerolabs.com)
Exero Labs has developed a patent-pending concept for a leaf spring device that attaches to the front of football helmets and deforms on impact to help absorb and diffuse impact forces.
VyaTek Sports, Inc.—Cave Creek, AZ (http://www.vyatek.com)
VyaTek is developing a new system called ZORBZ™—a series of replaceable, highly-efficient, energy-absorbing modules fitted to the exterior of a helmet.
New Therapies to Speed Recovery
Winner: RecoverX—Mountain View, CA (http://www.recoverx.io)
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.
EyeGuide, Inc.—Philadelphia, PA (https://eye.guide/)
EyeGuide Focus—a proprietary hardware & software eye-tracking platform—is designed to allow professionals to easily administer a simple, 10-second test to check for potential neurological impairment.
Technology to Improve Athletic Performance
Winner: Curv.ai—Toronto, Ontario (http://curv.ai)
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.
Aladdin Dreamer, Inc.—Paradise Valley, AZ (http://www.aladdindreamer.com)
Aladdin’s patented wearable is designed to improve athlete recovery and performance through biometric tracking and sleep enhancement.
Xensr, Inc.—Green Bay, WI (http://xensr.com/)
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.
About the NFL’s Health and Safety Initiatives
The NFL is committed to advancing progress in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of sports-related injuries. As part of the NFL’s ongoing health and safety efforts, in September 2016, Commissioner Goodell launched Play Smart. Play Safe.—a league-wide health and safety initiative. At the heart of the initiative is a pledge of $100 million in support for independent medical research and engineering advancements and a commitment to look at anything and everything to protect our players and make our game safer, including enhancements to medical protocols and improvements to how our game is taught and played. For more information about the NFL’s health and safety efforts, please visit www.PlaySmartPlaySafe.com.
About Comcast Corporation
Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA) is a global media and technology company with two primary businesses, Comcast Cable and NBCUniversal. Comcast Cable is one of the nation’s largest video, high-speed Internet and phone providers to residential customers under the XFINITY brand and also provides these services to businesses. NBCUniversal operates news, entertainment and sports cable networks, the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, television production operations, television station groups, Universal Pictures and Universal Parks and Resorts. Visit www.comcastcorporation.com for more information.
About Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit organization committed to clinical practice, education and research, providing expert, comprehensive care to everyone who needs healing. For more information, visit mayoclinic.org/about-mayo-clinic or newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org.
Helping the world play smarter and live more, SportsEngine, Inc., an NBC Sports Group company, is the leading provider of Sport Life Management mobile applications for coaches, parents, and athletes and Sports Relationship Management tools for governing bodies, leagues, clubs, associations and events. SportsEngine, Inc. powers over 750,000 teams, leagues, and clubs, helping them manage, connect, and communicate with a diverse range of stakeholders, including athletes, parents, administrators, coaches, referees, scouts, volunteers, fans, journalists, and sponsors. Founded in 2008, SportsEngine, Inc. is based in Minneapolis, MN. For more information, please visit www.sportsengine.com/solutions; like the company on Facebook at Facebook.com/sportsengine; or follow SportsEngine on Twitter at @sportsengine.
About NBC Sports Ventures
NBC Sports Ventures is the business development and investment arm of NBC Sports Group, and works alongside Comcast Ventures and ComcastNBCULIFT.com to evaluate investment opportunities in venture stage sports, esports, and gaming-related businesses for NBC Sports, NBCSN and Golf Channel. Properties under the NBC Sports Ventures umbrella include the American Century Golf Championship, the Red Bull Signature Series, the Lucas Oil Motocross Championships, the National Dog Show, Reebok Spartan Race, Nitro Circus, and the Universal Open esports tournament.