Announcing 1st And Future, A Startup Competition from the NFL and the Texas Medical Center

The Texas Medical Center has been working with Health 2.0 to promote startup competitions, incubators and health tech innovation for a while now. But this is the first time that I recall them giving the opportunity to win Superbowl tickets. Intrigued? Read on–Matthew Holt

On February 5, Super Bowl LI will take place in Houston, Texas at NRG Stadium. Houston is home to technology breakthroughs across all sectors: Spindletop, the Port of Houston, the Houston Ship Channel, Johnson Space Center, and the Texas Medical Center (TMC). With every discovery comes great benefit to those locally, and beyond.

With that spirit of innovation, the NFL has partnered with the Texas Medical Center, the largest medical complex in the world, to host a sports-tech pitch competition — 1st & Future.

1st and Future is a unique pitch competition that will take place at the Texas Medical Center Accelerator (TMCx) in Houston on February 4, 2017. Up to nine startups will be invited to present their solutions to help advance the game and the safety of its players to an exclusive audience including NFL team owners and executives, in addition to invitees of the Texas Medical Center and the NFL.

For more information about the pitch competition, here are some frequently asked questions:

What are the competition themes?

  • Communicating with the Athlete: 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. Specifications can be found on the event website.
  • Training the Athlete: Educational and training innovations designed to reduce injury during practice or competition. Innovations may include training techniques or equipment.
  • Materials to Protect the Athlete: Novel or innovative solutions and materials that advance player health and safety while allowing for the highest-level of performance. Innovations may include, but are not limited to, materials that: improve breathability, heat dissipation or provide better protection for players by absorbing or mitigating force. These materials may be incorporated into protective equipment, padding, uniforms or footwear among other potential uses.

How do I apply?

Visit www.tmc.edu/1st-and-future to find more information on the program and a link to the application. The application deadline is January 20, 2017.           

Am I eligible to apply?

Apart from clear relevance to one of the three themes, qualifying startups should:

  • Be early-stage companies, having raised an A-round or less;
  • Have a fully working product/beta, reasonably close to or in production;
  • Have limited press or publicity to date; and
  • No known intellectual property issues. 

How many startups will be invited to pitch?

The NFL and Texas Medical Center will select up to nine teams, or three startups selected per theme. 

What is the pitch competition format?

Each of the finalists will have a total of ten minutes on stage: five minutes to pitch their technology and five minutes of questions asked by a panel of judges. 

Who will judge the startups at the competition?

The judging panel is expected to include individuals from among the following groups: former NFL players, noted entrepreneurs, investors and qualified medical professionals with relevant experience who are familiar with the theme.  

What do the winners receive?

In addition to the opportunity to pitch in front of NFL team owners and executives and other invitees from the NFL, the Houston Super Bowl Host Committee and TMC, the winning team from each theme will receive a $50,000 check from the NFL, two tickets to Super Bowl LI and acceptance into the Texas Medical Center Accelerator (TMCx).

Where is the event?

The Texas Medical Center Accelerator (TMCx) located at 2450 Holcombe Blvd., Suite X, Houston, TX 77021. The event will be livestreamed on the TMC’s website (www.tmc.edu).

When is the 1st and Future event?

Saturday, February 4. The pitch-off is from 9 a.m. until noon. The event starts at 8 a.m., and finalists are expected to check-in by 7:45 a.m. on Saturday morning. There will be a reception at the end of the pitch-off, where each startup will have room to exhibit and talk 1:1 with pitch-off attendees. 

When will the finalists be notified?

The NFL and TMC will notify the finalists on or before January 24, 2017.

When will the finalists arrive in Houston?

The finalists will be expected to arrive in Houston on Wednesday, February 1 to begin pitch competition preparation and rehearsals at TMC. Finalists will be provided with a schedule of events upon acceptance into the competition.

Are costs to attend 1st & Future covered?

Yes, airfare for two personnel per startup (unless group transportation is reasonable) and up to two hotel rooms are covered by the NFL. 

If you would like to apply, please visit www.tmc.edu/1st-and-future. 

Questions? Get in touch at 1STandFuture@tmc.edu