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NBA Launchpad selects five firms to bring new technologies to basketball

League to work with and support BetterGuards, Breathwrk, Nextiles, Rezzil, and Uplift Labs.

7 January 2022 Steve McCaskill
NBA Launchpad selects five firms to bring new technologies to basketball

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  • Launchpad initiative created in June
  • NBA received submissions from 25 countries
  • League will offer support and resources over the next six months

The National Basketball Association (NBA) has selected five technology companies it wants to support and work with over the next six months, believing their innovations can help the league meet its strategic priorities.

The basketball league is one of the most technologically progressive and digitally developed sports organisations in the world, with its relatively diverse, youthful, and international audience giving it greater freedom to embrace new trends.

The NBA Launchpad initiative sought to identify technologies and companies that could help address four key areas: ankle injury innovation, elite youth player performance, referee training and development, and youth health and wellness.

Submissions were received from companies of all sizes from 25 countries and the league worked with subject experts to whittle down the list to just five.

BetterGuards is a Berlin-based firm creating an adaptive ankle protection system that can prevent injuries, while Breathwrk is a health and performance application. Nextiles is working on technology that combines sewing technologies with flexible electronics that could enable smart clothing, while Uplift Labs develops artificial intelligence (AI) software that analyses movement to enhance health and performance.

Manchester-based Rezzil’s virtual reality (VR) technology platform is already being used by soccer players for training, rehabilitation and game analysis and has received a surge in popularity during lockdown. It is also hoped that the technology can provide effective training without the need to head the ball, reducing the risk of long-term brain injuries. The NBA hopes the technology can be applied to basketball.

“We are thrilled to introduce our NBA Launchpad programme with such a diverse group of innovative products and solutions,” said Evan Wasch, head of basketball strategy and analytics at the NBA. “Each company brings something unique to the table that will improve the game of basketball.”

Over the next six months, all five companies will work alongside the league’s experts on research projects, while they will receive access to NBA events and its ecosystem of partners and investors.

Both Rezzil and Uplift Labs have previously featured in SportsPro’s annual class of 20 sports tech ideas to invest in now.

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