NFL and Texas Medical Center Announce Winners for 1st
and Future Competition
Three companies win $50,000 each in live
sports-technology startup showdown
Houston – February 4, 2017
– Three winners were announced today
in the second annual 1st
and Future competition, a collaboration between the National
Football League (NFL) and the Texas
Medical Center (TMC) to award startups focused on driving innovations
to advance sports technology and athlete safety. The winners – GoRout of Rochester, Minnesota,
Mobile Virtual Player
of Lebanon, New Hampshire and Windpact
of Leesburg, Virginia – each left with $50,000 from the NFL to further
develop their innovation, acceptance into TMC’s world-renowned startup program
TMCx, and two tickets to Super Bowl LI on February 5.
The live pitch competition
took place at the Texas Medical Center
Accelerator (TMCx) in Houston, where nine finalists faced off in three
categories – Communicating with the Athlete, Training the Athlete and
Materials to Protect the Athlete. Scott Hanson of the NFL Network
and host of NFL RedZone emceed, as the companies faced off in front
of an exclusive audience comprised of NFL team owners and executives, as well
as representatives and guests of the Houston Super Bowl Host Committee and the
Texas Medical Center.
NFL Commissioner Roger
Goodell and GE
CEO and Chairman Jeff Immelt kicked off 1st
and Future with a conversation moderated by TMC President and CEO Dr. Robert
C. Robbins. The focus was on advancing technology in the market through
industry partnership, such as the GE-NFL Head Health Initiative and
open-innovation challenges like 1st and Future.
Following each pitch, the
presenters faced questions from a team of judges, including:
- Ed Egan,
Ph.D., Director of the McNair Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation
at Rice University’s Baker Institute
Ellenbogen, M.D., Chairman of the Department of Neurological
Surgery at the University of Washington Medical Center and Co-Chairman
of the NFL Head, Neck and Spine Committee
Harris, M.D., M.B.A, CEO and Managing Partner of Vesalius
Jemison, M.D., Principal, 100 Year Starship
Pennington, former NFL quarterback, NFL Legend
Siegel, CEO of GE Ventures and healthymagination
Urschel, Baltimore Ravens guard and center
The finalists included the
following startup companies (with a summary of each startup’s product or
service, as described by them):
Communicating with the
New technologies that will
improve the secure and safe means of communication between a coach on the
sideline or in the coaches’ booth and a designated player on the field.
Winner: GoRout – Rochester, Minnesota
has created on-field wearable technology to help streamline the communication
between football coaches and players by allowing players to receive digital
play diagrams and data from coaches on the sideline.
Elevety – Toronto, Ontario, Canada
is a wearable technology company with a mission to bring voice communication to
the worlds of adventure and spectator sports. The 2-way, closed system
peer-to-peer communication devices allow teams to communicate in real-time
voice anywhere, without the need for a mobile network.
Linkpro – Jersey, Channel
Islands, United Kingdom
Linkpro® Explore1 is a technology-enabled sports helmet with fully integrated
communications technology that allows users to connect to select groups with a
simple one-touch system.
Training the Athlete
Educational and training
innovations designed to reduce injury during practice or competition.
Innovations may include training techniques or equipment.
Winner: Mobile Virtual Player –
Lebanon, New Hampshire
Virtual Player (MVP) is an innovative, patented training platform that allows
coaches to teach and train players effectively while significantly reducing the
risk of injury from player-to-player contact. MVP brings a highly-mobile,
remote controlled, self-righting ‘virtual player’ onto the field to
revolutionize football training.
The Iron Neck – Austin, Texas
Iron Neck is a breakthrough neck training tool that enables athletes across all
sports to increase strength, flexibility and range of motion to better defend
against concussive forces and rehabilitate previous injuries. By attaching to
existing equipment, the Iron Neck leaves no gym footprint and combines
horizontal and rotational resistance with 360 degrees of movement to build
consistent and measurable training programs at every level.
LVL – Austin, Texas
is a next-generation, optical sensor-driven platform that gives a continuous
view of players' physiological states including: hydration, muscle effort and
exertion, heart rate, speed and concussion markers. Using patented machine
learning techniques, LVL produces real-time recommendations for risk reduction,
training optimization and rest and recovery needs.
Materials to Protect
Novel or innovative solutions
and materials that advance player health and safety while allowing for the
highest-level of performance.
Winner: Windpact – Leesburg, Virginia
Windpact is a safety technology company that has
developed a patented padding system that uses air and foam to absorb and
disperse impact energy to improve the performance of helmets and protective
gear. Driven by a team of engineers, designers and developers and led by a Pro
Bowl NFL veteran, Windpact has begun integrating its flagship Crash Cloud
technology into partner helmets and aims to further advance player health and
safety through its scientific approach to product development.
2ND Skull – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
SKULL is a protective headgear company with patented products that are
scientifically engineered to reduce impact. The 2ND SKULL® CAP, is a thin,
soft, flexible and breathable protective skull cap that fits under football
helmets and provides added protection against linear and rotational
Prevent Biometrics –
head impact monitor can detect potential concussion-causing impacts in
real-time on the field of play, taking today’s observational, subjective and
inaccurate method of identifying athletes for concussion assessment and turning
it into an objective, accurate, data-driven process.
The full competition will be
available to watch on the TMC
What was sparked with the
founding of a single hospital in Houston in 1925 has come to be the Texas
Medical Center (TMC) today. Home to 59 member institutions, including 21
hospitals, 13 support organizations, nine academic and research institutions,
six nursing programs, four public health organizations, three medical schools,
four universities, two pharmacy schools and a dental school, TMC operates the
world’s largest medical city with eight million patients and family encounters
with doctors, nurses and staff at TMC every year. TMC is dedicated to
reinventing life sciences to improve the health and wellness of Houston, and
the world. Learn more at tmc.edu.
Jill Pike, NFL
Alex Riethmiller, NFL
Christen David, TMC
For any video footage
requests, please contact Christen David at TMC.