IEDC, Indiana Sports Corp. launch sports tech business initiative

A not-for-profit with a focus on attracting investments in sports technology to the state was launched Wednesday by the Indiana Economic Development Corp. and the Indiana Sports Corp.

SportsTech HQ is an effort from state economic development and sports tourism officials to bring in venture startups focused on sports and further grow the state’s ecosystem of sports tech-focused firms.

“Indiana has developed an international reputation for amateur and professional sports over the last four decades,” said Indiana Secretary of Commerce Brad Chambers in written remarks. “By focusing on the future of sports technology, we are taking intentional strategic steps to ensure Indiana is the hub for sports technology companies for the next four decades and beyond.”

Ryan Vaughn, outgoing president of the Indiana Sports Corp. is also serving as president of the new venture, which is being funded with about $2.25 million in seed money from the IEDC. Vaughn said the project is being backed with staff and marketing support from the Sports Corp., and he plans to stay on with the organization’s board once a full-time president is hired.

He said the organization will leverage resources from across the state to build partnerships and provide funding for various projects from sports tech firms. He said it’s not clear how much the organization’s budget will be year-to-year, but there could be opportunities for funding from the IEDC.

“Our goal is to eventually grow into an independently operating not-for-profit,” Vaughn said.

SportsTech HQ has already worked with one firm, Flexia, to secure financial help to start full-scale manufacturing. Flexia is a platform used for Pilates exercise that has raised $4 million in seed funding.

As part of its launch, SportsTech HQ this summer will bring the European sports and entertainment technology summit One-Zero to Indianapolis.

One-Zero is expected to draw about 500 people for networking opportunities, hands-on demonstrations and panels on big industry topics like non-fungible tokens, ticketing, fitness, fan engagement, betting and fantasy sports. One-Zero will be held at the National Collegiate Athletic Association headquarters July 6-8.

Cultivating a sports tech ecosystem is not new to Indianapolis. The city is home to the Techstars Sports Accelerator Powered by Indy. In April, the business accelerator announced its class of 2022, which is taking part in a 13-week mentorship program.

Participants in the current cohort will showcase their technology and business plans to potential investors during an end-of-session demonstration in July. That demo day will coincide with the One-Zero summit

The One-Zero summit was established in Dublin, Ireland, in 2017 and held there through 2019—before the 2020 event was canceled due to the pandemic. The final event brought about 1,000 attendees from across 16 countries, including executives from the NFL, Formula One, Nike, Microsoft and the Premier League. One-Zero will also host a Dublin event in late 2022.

“We are thrilled to partner with One-Zero to create a truly unique event, focused specifically around venture capital and high growth startups in sports and entertainment,” said Jordan Fliegel, managing director of the Techstars Sports Accelerator and co-chair of the One-Zero Summit. “We’ve collectively been able to pull together a great lineup of high-profile founders as speakers, and dedicated panels moderated by experienced VCs investing in the space.”

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