MINNEAPOLIS — Nine finalists have been chosen by the NFL, the Mayo Clinic and Comcast NBCUniversal in the league’s annual startup competition to spur novel advancements in athletes’ safety and performance.

Dubbed 1st and Future, entrepreneurs and innovators will compete in three categories: advancements in protective equipment; technology to improve athletic performance; and new therapies to speed recovery. One winner from each category will be selected by a panel of judges comprised of former NFL players, entrepreneurs and medical experts.

The winning team from each category will receive a $50,000 check from the NFL and two tickets to Super Bowl 52.

The finalists are:

Advancements in Protective Equipment

Exero Labs of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, which has developed a patent-pending concept for a leaf spring device that attaches to the front of football helmets and deforms on impact to help absorb and diffuse impact forces.

Impressio, Inc., Denver, utilizes liquid-crystal elastomers (LCEs) to create liner materials for protective equipment designed to overcome the existing challenges of energy absorption in current helmet foams.

VyaTek Sports, Inc., of Cave Creek, Arizona, is developing a new system called ZORBZ_a series of replaceable energy-absorbing modules fitted to the exterior of a helmet.

New Therapies to Speed Recovery

Cartilage Repair Systems LLC of New York aims to advance the treatment of cartilage injuries using a patented process to create new cartilage from a patient’s own cartilage and bone marrow cells in a single surgery, with the goal to shorten recovery times.

EyeGuide, Inc. of Philadelphia and Lubbock, Texas, a proprietary hardware and software eye-tracking platform designed to allow professionals to easily administer a simple 10-second test to check for potential neurological impairment.

RecoverX of Mountain View, California, has Element, a connected device that can achieve the optimum cold or hot therapy temperatures without any ice or water, designed to allow users more freedom for their therapy.

Technology to Improve Athletic Performance

Aladdin Dreamer, Inc. of Paradise Valley, Arizona, whose patented wearable is designed to improve athlete recovery and performance through biometric tracking and sleep enhancement.

Curv.ai of Toronto is an athlete development platform that leverages patent-pending computer vision and augmented reality to transform the camera on any mobile device into a versatile tool that captures human motion, measures athletic abilities and evaluates injury risk.

Xensr, Inc. of Green Bay, Wisconsin has Konect Sports technology, an end-to-end three-dimensional motion tracking, training and quantification system designed to provide real-time athlete performance data and train athletes to have faster reflexive responses.


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