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Volume 24 No. 216
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Packers Partnering With Microsoft To Create Accelerator, Innovation Lab In Titletown District

The Packers are working with Microsoft to create an accelerator and innovation lab by next year in the new 45-acre Titletown Development district across the street from Lambeau Field. The team will spend $8-10M for the new building and contribute $5M to a venture capital fund. Microsoft also will contribute $5M to the fund. "The concept of Titletown has always been a lot larger than just leveraging the Packers brand into a successful real estate brand," Packers General Counsel Ed Policy said. "It was always meant to build a magnet to bring world class people and brands to our community." Microsoft will house three to four employees at what is being called Titletown Tech. The accelerator will seed startups, and the innovation lab will offer management expertise. Microsoft President Brad Smith said sports teams are already digitally advanced. The technology giant had been looking at taking its knowhow to smaller markets, and the Packers brand and Titletown offered that opportunity. The decision to invest in Titletown is not connected to Microsoft’s larger sponsorship of the NFL, he said. The Dodgers also have an accelerator, though that one focuses on companies at the nexus of sports and technology. The Packers one will not focus on sports, Smith said, but a variety of sectors (Daniel Kaplan, Staff Writer).

PERFECT MATCH: Policy said that additional investors "will be recruited, but the Packers and Microsoft will remain the largest." In Green Bay, Richard Ryman in a front-page piece notes the Packers will "pay for the building and receive rent from tenants, including their own separate Titletown District entity." The team "declined to say how much the building will cost." The Titletown Tech building is "expected to open" in fall '18. Smith said that a partnership between an NFL franchise and Microsoft is "not as strange as it would seem." NFL teams are "very much digital companies and the Packers' culture matches well with that of Microsoft." The company also was "attracted by the Packers' level of community engagement and philanthropy" (GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE, 10/20).