Canadian sports technology incubator Future of Sport Lab is now accepting applications from startups to join its latest cohort. The incubator was launched in 2018 by Toronto’s Ryerson University and Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, owners of the NBA’s Toronto Raptors, NHL’s Maple Leafs and MLS club Toronto FC. 
Startups have until May 12 to apply. Since 2018, startups that have graduated from Future of Sport Lab have raised a combined $30 million. Companies will have access to the FSL and MLSE’s network of mentors throughout the program, which will conclude in September with a pitch day in front of potential investors.
Notable companies to have graduated from the Future of Sport Lab include injury prediction startup Zone7, audio streaming app ProWire, remote sports broadcasting platform Spalk and women-led sports media startup The GIST.
Vaunt, a platform for athlete- and entertainer-led digital fan experiences, raised a $5 million Series A round with investments from the sports world. Investors include the Los Angeles Dodgers-affiliated Elysian Park Ventures, retired NFL star Justin Tuck, former NBPA executive director Michele Roberts and chairman of Genius Sports David Levy.
Longtime NBA player and former NBPA deputy executive director Roger Mason Jr. is co-founder and CEO of Vaunt, which helps creators monetize their brand and events. Vaunt helps produce and stream live sports—such as the FIBA 3×3 AmeriCup in Miami last November—while building fan experiences through social communities, sports betting, merchandise and NFTs. 
“So many athletes are relegated to their one sport or one competition, often boxed-in,” Tuck said. “With Vaunt’s mission and vision aligned with this funding opportunity, many more athletes will be able to exhibit their talents and do well for themselves.” 
Also participating in the Series A round were metaverse builder InfiniteWorld and True Culture Fund, a venture firm that supports Black entrepreneurs. 
Retired Brazilian soccer icon Ronaldinho is launching his own crypto fan token in partnership with social fan token startup P00LS. Fans who own the $RON token can access exclusive content, merchandise and NFTs related to the soccer star.
P00LS will list the $RON token to earn and trade on the Ethereum blockchain starting April 28. Fans can also currently earn the $RON token for free on P00LS by answering questions about Ronaldinho’s past and posting about Ronaldinho on their own social media accounts.
Ronaldinho, a two-time FIFA World Player of the Year and 2005 Ballon d’Or winner, joins electronic music producer Blond:ish as creators with tokens on P00LS. Ronaldinho’s token perks will include pre-release access to new products and never-before-seen video footage.
The Washington Wizards have won the NBA’s Team Innovation and Game Experience Satisfaction awards, the league announced Friday. The recognition came as part of the NBA’s 2022 Sales & Marketing Awards.
Washington won the innovation award due in part to the success of its Caesars by William Hill Sportsbook at Capital One Arena, which debuted in 2020 as the first sportsbook inside a U.S. sports venue. The sportsbook has accepted $238.8 million in handle since its opening with an average bet of $95. It has contributed more than $3 million in tax revenue to the District of Columbia.
The sportsbook, which also features a bar and restaurant, was called “the single most successful business in downtown D.C.” in a Wizards press release. During the 2021-22 season, the Wizards also extended its deal with in-arena fan video app 15 Seconds of Fame. The team also partnered with FTX to release NFTs and host a contest that gave Bitcoin to select fans for each block by a Wizards player.
The Game Experience Satisfaction award is given to the NBA team with the highest percentage of overall game experience satisfaction via the league’s Fan Loyalty Tracker surveys. Washington has also had esports success as Wizards District Gaming has won the NBA 2K League title in each of the past two seasons.
In celebration of Earth Day, the NHL and NHLPA today announced two winners of its second-annual Future Goals Virtual Science Fair. The program’s presenting sponsor SAP will donate $2,500 each towards an environmental sustainability project undertaken by the schools of both first-place winners. 
Langstyn V. from Massachusetts won the grades 7-8 competition for her research on incorporating recyclable LDPE thermoplastics instead of plexiglass in rink boards and switching from gas to electric ice resurfacers at hockey rinks. The grades 4-6 competition was won by Tyler K. for his studies on whether raising the freezing point of water with chemical additives would lower the amount of energy used to maintain ice in an NHL arena. 
Online education platform Everfi hosted the virtual science fair with the NHL.  
“Sports has the ability to be that multiplier effect in our local communities to change the way that business is done. We can start to really embed sustainability through that network effect,” Omar Mitchell, the NHL’s VP of sustainable infrastructure and growth initiatives, said at SportTechie’s State Of The Industry earlier this month. “Our sport was born on frozen ponds. We need cold weather, we need fresh water, and we play in a giant refrigerator.” 
Amazon Prime Video has renewed its streaming deal with the WNBA to show 17 nationally exclusive league games, including the Commissioner’s Cup, but also added a regional carriage agreement to stream Seattle Storm games throughout Washington State. 
Approximately 30 of the Storm’s 36 regular season games will be streamed state-wide. The team’s longtime commentators, Dick Fain and Elise Woodward, will be behind the mic while Rush Media will produce the broadcasts. 
The Storm makes their regional debut May 6 on Amazon with its home opener at Climate Pledge Arena against the Minnesota Lynx. The first national game on Prime is scheduled for Sunday, May 8, matching the Los Angeles Sparks and Indiana Fever. The WNBA Commissioner’s Cup, which is now sponsored by Coinbase, featured advanced player tracking data in last summer’s championship game provided by Hawk-Eye and Kinexon.  
SportTechie recently honored the WNBA as its Outstanding League award winner. 
Bundesliga soccer club Borussia Dortmund has partnered with Swiss startup Coachbetter to make its coaching education app available to Dortmund’s BVB Evonik Football Academy. Coachbetter will be used across Dortmund’s partnered youth programs in 16 countries, including Germany, Japan, Poland and its US locations in Florida, Texas, Washington, Arizona and Louisiana.  
Zurich-based Coachbetter will add a BVB eAcademy to its platform for Dortmund’s academy trainers to access coaching education and youth player development content. Coachbetter’s existing partners include Florida soccer club Weston FC, which plays in the USL League Two. 
Former professional soccer player Remo Staubli is an investor in Coachbetter, which raised about $900,000 in seed funding last October. The startup’s other investors include the Swiss Founders Fund and TheVentureCity. 
Toch.ai, an AI video editing platform with a focus on sports broadcasting, has rebranded as VideoVerse and announced $46.8 million in Series B funding. The investment was led by A91 Partners and Alpha Wave Global and will support VideoVerse‘s global expansion plans. 
VideoVerse’s flagship product is Magnifi, a computer vision software that creates real-time video clip highlights from live broadcasts across sports, entertainment and news. The company’s other products include web-based video editor Illusto and Styck, which brands use to livestream content across their social media platforms.  
VideoVerse’s target market includes working with OTT streaming platforms, broadcasters, sports teams and leagues, marketing agencies, gaming platforms, schools and colleges. The company’s data science and machine learning team is based in Israel—a haven for sports computer vision leaders. VideoVerse also has offices in the US, Europe and India and will expand into Singapore and across the Middle East by the end of 2022. 
MLB’s Houston Astros have added Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology to two food and beverage stores at Minute Maid Park. Fans can insert their credit card at the entry gate of each store before grabbing items off shelves and having their card automatically charged for those items as they exit. 
The checkout-free experience is conducted through Amazon’s computer vision cameras and sensors that identify items grabbed by individual shoppers inside the store. Products taken from shelves will be added to a guest’s virtual cart. If a person returns an item to the shelf, it will be automatically removed from their cart. Fans buying alcohol will be required to show ID to a store employee. Amazon also operates its Just Walk Out retail technology at sports venues such as Climate Pledge Arena, UBS Arena, TD Garden and the United Center.  
“Our technology is designed to deliver a fast and frictionless shopping experience, so we’re thrilled to help eliminate checkout lines for fans when they need to refuel during games and between innings,” Dilip Kumar, VP of physical retail & technology at Amazon, said in a statement. 
The Seattle Kraken’s Just Walk Out stores at Climate Pledge Arena additionally offer Amazon’s palm recognition for payments, though MLB’s press release has no mention of that technology being offered at Minute Maid Park. Amazon signed a deal last year with the AEG-owned ticket service AXS to implement its Amazon One palm recognition at entertainment venues.
The Red Rocks music venue in Colorado planned to use the palm-scanning tech on guests for ticket entry but stopped after music artists protested its planned use at a concert in March. That protest was led by Evan Greer, a director of the advocacy group Fight for the Future
“This is awesome because Red Rocks was one of the first major concert venues in the country to start experimenting with this type of biometric surveillance technology. Them dropping Amazon will send a strong message to other venues,” Greer wrote on Twitter in March.  
The Atlanta Hawks have partnered with Microsoft to create digital content and provide STEM programming in underserved communities in its metropolitan area. 
The agreement, which includes the Microsoft-owned Xbox brand, will harness sports, technology and gaming to garner interest and offer educational opportunities. Along with the Hawks, they will collaborate on creating STEM- and basketball-themed camps as part of the NBA team’s community court summer tour. 
The launch of the relationship included the selection of a youth member of BlazeSports America—a nonprofit formed after the 1996 Atlanta Paralympics to promote adaptive sports—to speak with Microsoft employee and Paralympian Kim Robins. That conversation will be moderated by NBA Hall of Famer and Hawks legend Dominique Wilkins. 
“At Xbox, our mission is to bring the joy and community of gaming to everyone on the planet,” Chris Munson, senior global Xbox Sports partnerships manager, said in a statement. “We are excited to partner with the Atlanta Hawks to bring to life our core messagePower Your Dreamswhich not only celebrates the values of diversity and inclusion shared by Xbox and the Hawks, but spurs fans imagination when two creative teams come together.” 
 
The Scottish Professional Football League voted nearly unanimously to implement Hawk-Eye Innovation’s Video Assistant Referee system, which continues to gain momentum internationally.
With 41 of 42 teams voting in favor of VAR on Tuesday, the SPFL announced it will unveil the replay system in December following the World Cup in Qatar, with further plans to use it in league cup semifinals and finals in early 2023.
Already deployed by FIFA, the English Premier League and in recent World Cup qualifiers, Hawk-Eye’s technology—and its six strategically-placed unmanned cameras—has proven to correct referee’s calls on the field with 99 percent accuracy, according to Crawford Allan, the Scottish Football Association’s head of refereeing operations.
“You’re never going to get the 100, and football will always be about opinions,’’ Allan told Sky Sports. “But that 99, I’m sure we’d agree, is better than the 92 or 93 percent at the moment.’’
The Scottish system will run identically to FIFA’s system, in that reviews will be utilized for penalties, red cards, goal confirmations and mistaken identity situations. Sky Sports reported that VAR’s cost will be £1.2 million a season, with each of the clubs sharing the cost based on their final position in the league standings. Winning Premiership clubs would be due to pay more, about £195,000 a year.
“Cost is an interesting one,’’ Allan told Sky Sports. “If I was moving Scottish football forward—and I am part of the football family—I’d like to think of it as an investment in Scottish football rather than a cost.’’

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