Nine individuals and startups have been selected as finalists for the NFL 1st and Future pitch competition, held annually to coincide with the Super Bowl. The finalists will compete at the invite-only pitch this Saturday, February 2nd, for over $100,000 in cash and the chance to win tickets to Super Bowl LIII.
The fourth annual 1st and Future is being held in conjunction with Georgia Tech and the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), the state of Georgia’s startup incubator. Two Georgia Tech faculty will serve as judges: football coach Geoff Collins and Scheller College of Business Analytics Center managing director Keith Werle.
Additional judges include Atlanta-based VC firm BIP Capital’s Vice President Serath Degala; Atlanta Falcons Head Coach Dan Quinn; Baltimore Ravens Head Team Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Leigh Ann Curl; Windpack CEO Shawn Springs; and the CMO and Vice President of Arrow Electronics, the event sponsor.
One of the startups in the pitch competition also has roots in Georgia Tech. TendoNova, a young company founded by four Georgia Tech graduates, has developed a device to improve treatment for chronic tendon pain, or “tendinopathy,” and reduce rehabilitation time for these injuries.
The Atlanta-based startup will compete in the category of “Innovations to Advance Athlete Health and Safety Competition”, which focuses on player health and safety.
“Our team has put in a lot of work developing a novel, practical, and economical solution to chronic tendon pains, such as tennis elbow and jumper’s knee. Being a finalist in the NFL 1st & Future competition is further validation of the need for our solution in the market. We are excited to share more about TendoNova on a national stage,” co-founder Jonathan Shaw tells Hypepotamus.
The other four startups in the category hail from Milwaukee, Seattle, St. Paul, and Detroit. The winner in this category will receive $50,000 and tickets to the big game.
The second category, NFL Punt Analytics, challenged individuals to use NFL data to find solutions to reduce player injury during punt plays. Four individuals from across the country have been selected to pitch for cash prizes and Super Bowl tickets.
Georgia Tech President G.P. “Bud” Peterson highlighted the role Georgia Tech and the ATDC will play in the 1st and Future competition. In addition to hosting, ATDC staff and entrepreneurs-in-residence are contributing their expertise to help prepare the finalists for the pitch.
“Yellow Jacket fans love our sports teams, and the opportunity to partner with the NFL to advance collaborative innovation in athletics, particularly around safety and performance, is one we wholeheartedly endorse. 1st and Future’s innovative spirit dovetails with the energy that propels Georgia Tech’s robust startup culture and spurs the entrepreneurial drive for which the Institute is well known,” Peterson said in a blog post.
Prior to the pitch, there will be a panel discussion on modernizing football through technology. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Atlanta Falcons President and CEO Rich McKay, and Arizona Cardinals Wide Receiver Larry Fitzgerald will speak on the panel, and NFL RedZone host Scott Hanson will moderate.