NFL, Comcast NBCUniversal, Mayo Clinic Announce Finalists and Judges For Third Annual “1st and Future” Super Bowl Start-Up Competition

NFL, Comcast NBCUniversal, Mayo Clinic Announce Finalists and Judges For Third Annual “1st and Future” Super Bowl Start-Up Competition

Nine companies to present game-changing technologies to prominent group of judges in live showdown.

The National Football League (NFL), Comcast NBCUniversal and Mayo Clinic today announced the finalists and judges for 1st and Future, the NFL’s annual Super Bowl start-up competition designed to spur novel advancements in athlete safety and performance.

The live event will take place at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis on February 3, 2018, the day before Super Bowl LII. During the program, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Chairman of NBC Broadcasting & Sports Mark Lazarus, Mayo Clinic President and CEO John H. Noseworthy, M.D. and Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson will participate in a panel discussion about the role of innovation in sports, moderated by Scott Hanson of NFL Network and host of NFL RedZone. Hanson will also emcee the pitch competition.

NBC Sports will livestream the full competition on Feb. 3 at

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 LII. The following companies have been named as finalists (with a summary of each start-up’s product or service, as described by the company):

Advancements in Protective Equipment

  • Exero Labs—Chagrin Falls, OH (
    Exero Labs 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, CO (
    Impressio utilizes liquid-crystal elastomers (LCEs) to create novel dissipative liner materials for protective equipment designed to overcome the existing challenges of energy absorption in current helmet foams.


  • VyaTek Sports, Inc.—Cave Creek, AZ (
    VyaTek is developing a new system called ZORBZ™—a series of replaceable, highly efficient, energy-absorbing modules fitted to the exterior of a helmet.


New Therapies to Speed Recovery

  • Cartilage Repair Systems LLC—New York, NY
    CartiONE 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.—Philadelphia, PA & Lubbock, TX (
    EyeGuide Focus—a proprietary hardware & software eye-tracking platform—is designed to allow professionals to easily administer a simple, 10-second test to check for potential neurological impairment.


  • RecoverX—Mountain View, CA (
    Element is 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.—Paradise Valley, AZ ( Aladdin’s patented wearable is designed to improve athlete recovery and performance through biometric tracking and sleep enhancement.


  •—Toronto, Ontario (
    Curv 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.—Green Bay, WI (
    Xensr’s Konect Sports technology is an end-to-end 3D-motion tracking, training and quantification system designed to provide real-time athlete performance data and train athletes to have faster reflexive responses.


The companies will face off in front of a panel of judges and an exclusive audience—including NFL team owners and executives, and representatives from the Minneapolis Super Bowl Host Committee, Comcast NBCUniversal and Mayo Clinic.

The panel of judges will feature:

  • Amy Banse, Managing Director and Head of Funds for Comcast Ventures


  • Jonathan Finnoff, D.O., Medical Director of Mayo Clinic Square, Sports Medicine Center in Minneapolis


  • Courtney Hall, Managing Director, Hillcrest Venture Partners, former NFL player


  • Justin Kaufenberg, Co-Founder and CEO, SportsEngine


  • Laurie Locascio, Ph.D., Vice President for Research, University of Maryland


  • Eric Sugarman, MS, ATC, Director of Sports Medicine and Head Athletic Trainer, Minnesota Vikings


  • Jennifer Wethe, Ph.D., Neuropsychologist for Mayo Clinic Arizona Sports Neurology and Concussion Program


Minneapolis-based SportsEngine Inc., a division of Comcast NBCUniversal’s NBC Sports Group and the leading youth sports technology provider, will serve as a home base for the competing companies during the week prior to the 1st and Future competition. Together, NBC Sports Ventures, Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs for entrepreneurs and SportsEngine will administer the 1st and Future competition.

For more information on 1st and Future, visit