INDIANAPOLIS — Six of central Indiana’s largest sports organizations, along with the state’s Next Level Fund, are partnering to launch Techstars’ first sports technology initiative in Indianapolis. Techstars, the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed, and the SportsTech founding partners Next Level Fund, Indiana Sports Corp, NCAA and Pacers Sports & Entertainment and supporting partners the Indianapolis Colts, Verizon IndyCar Series and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, are joining together to bring a new mentorship-driven accelerator program to Indianapolis: Techstars SportsTech Accelerator Powered by Indy.
“Indiana’s emerging tech industry and our great sports reputation have combined to attract this terrific opportunity for sports entrepreneurs,” Gov. Eric J. Holcomb said. “I’m proud that we are putting the Next Level Fund to use in such an innovative way.”
As one of the premier sports and tech hub destinations in the country, Indianapolis is an emerging leader bridging technology and innovation. The three-year accelerator program will launch at the 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500 in May 2019 and will support innovative startups across many sectors, stages and business models aiming to combat issues in sports technology.
Through the Techstars SportsTech Accelerator, 10 startups will be selected each of the next three years to relocate to Indianapolis for three months for mentorship with experienced entrepreneurs and industry experts. The Techstars Indy team will recruit, select and accelerate the most-talented companies in the following potential areas: fan participation, player/driver safety, ticketing, merchandising, athlete performance management, athlete wellness, among others. The accelerator provides startup founders with the chance to pitch to angel investors and venture capitalists at the culmination of the 13 weeks.
The SportsTech Accelerator will have a key focus on innovation with goals to foster early identification of key trends for future technology in sport; meaningful engagement with early-stage sports tech companies; embrace technologies and business models that will impact the sports industry; and enhance a culture of internal innovation and the spirit of entrepreneurship.
The Techstars SportsTech Accelerator fund is backed by the founding partners Next Level Fund, Indiana Sports Corp, NCAA and Pacers Sports & Entertainment in addition to the supporting partners the Indianapolis Colts, Verizon IndyCar Series and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In the coming months, Techstars will select a Managing Director to oversee the strategy and leadership of the program and hire Support Program Staff.
“Indiana Sports Corp and its partners are proud to bring the first sports tech accelerator of its kind to Indianapolis,” said Indiana Sports Corp president Ryan Vaughn. “We are excited to match with the most talented entrepreneurs in the world to foster innovation and expand our city’s footprint in the sports and tech industries.”
“The NCAA is committed to creating meaningful change in the community and college sports,” said Kathleen McNeely, NCAA chief financial officer. “We are proud members of the Indianapolis community and are delighted to be a part of this important effort to bring technology, mentorship and sports together in Indiana. We are eager to foster a culture of innovation and embrace technologies that will positively impact sports and student-athletes everywhere.”
“We are excited to invest in this new partnership that will serve as a growth engine for entrepreneurship, technology and innovation in our local economy,” commented Stephen Simon, Co-Owner, Pacers Sports & Entertainment. “We are constantly looking for new ways to leverage technology to improve our operations as well as our guest and fan experiences, so it’s great to work in a city that is emerging as the premier sports-tech hub in the world.”
“Indianapolis, home to a vibrant entrepreneurial sector and many world-class sporting events and organizations, is the perfect location for the new Techstars SportsTech Accelerator,” said Mark Miles, Hulman and Company president and chief executive officer. “INDYCAR and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway are happy to officially launch this new initiative with so many wonderful partners at the 2019 Indianapolis 500, an event that exemplifies the many exciting innovations and 21st century technologies that power both a global sporting spectacle and top-notch fan experience.”
“Indianapolis already is an international center for sports and sports-driven ventures, and today’s announcement only adds to our city’s world-class business portfolio,” said Pete Ward, Colts chief operating officer. “We are pleased to partner with the Next Level Fund and our fellow sports properties to support this new and innovative opportunity for our city.”
With the addition of the SportsTech Accelerator and an announcement last week by the Heritage Group, which is partnering with Techstars to bring materials science-based startups to Indianapolis through a similar venture, Techstars will have 46 accelerator programs around the world. Techstars selected Indy to pilot this sports tech initiative and add to their existing accelerator profile including more than 1,400 companies with a market cap of $16 billion.
“Techstars is proud to open our second accelerator in Indy,” said David Brown, co-CEO and founder of Techstars. “Indianapolis is growing international recognition for its investments in innovation. The entrepreneurs in the Techstars SportsTech Accelerator Powered by Indy will have access to incredible leaders from Indiana Sports Corp and all of the sports leaders in the area.”
Applications will open in December 2018 with the program kicking off in May 2019. Companies interested in applying are encouraged to check out the Techstars Application Toolkit. For more information on Techstars and its accelerator programs, visit www.techstars.com.