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Volume 27 No. 53
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Comcast To Launch Sports Tech Accelerator This Year

Comcast NBCUniversal will select 10 sports-tech startups to join a new accelerator that will launch outside Atlanta this summer, hoping to supercharge innovation in eight different areas of sports business. Each company will receive a $50,000 equity investment and get first-hand strategic and technical advice, along with free office space for three months.

NASCAR, U.S. Ski & Snowboarding and USA Swimming -- all properties that call Comcast a sponsor or broadcast rights-holder -- have signed on as partners, intending to act as proving grounds for the entrepreneurs and strategic consultants. Colorado-based Boomtown Accelerators will actually operate the program, which will be based at Comcast’s existing accelerator programs at The Battery.

The goal is to bring to bear all the resources and connections held by Comcast and partners to develop ideas as quickly as possible that will benefit them, and become the basis of profitable businesses in their own right, said Comcast VP/Startup Partner Development Jenna Kurath. “If we pull in all of our assets, what could we do together that really shapes the future of sports?" Kurath said.

The broad areas of focus include: sports media and entertainment; fan/player engagement; athlete performance; team/coach success; venue and event innovation; fantasy sports and betting, esports and sports business.

Applications are available at comcastsportstech.com and are due May 15. The inaugural class begins in August. A commercial product is not necessary to be considered, and the terms contemplate a very early-stage company -- the $50,000 investment will buy a minimum of 6% equity in the startups, working out to valuation of less than $850,000. Comcast and Boomtown will be the actual equity holders.

“What we’re really interested in is amazing founders with a great idea that dovetails within the interests of the launch partners Comcast and NBC Universal,” said Boomtown co-Founder & CEO Toby Krout. Along with the equity funding, $1.7M in other support will be available to the participating companies.

The sports properties won’t hold equity in the accelerator participants, but their leaders think proximity to the program and face-to-face collaboration with the startups will bring tech solutions to their sports more quickly. Both NASCAR and the Olympic sports NGBs have sophisticated technical challenges but have limited funds for high-end research & development.

“We’re really salivating and really interested in having some two-way conversations with some of these really bright folks about some of the innovation needs we need but haven’t been able to pursue,” said USA Swimming CCO Shana Ferguson.