Finalists and Judges Announced 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

New York, January 25, 2018—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 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 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 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 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.

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's patented wearable is designed to improve athlete recovery and performance through biometric tracking and sleep enhancement.

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'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" target="_blank" >

About the NFL's Health and Safety Initiatives

The NFL is committed to advancing progress in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of sports-related injuries. As part of the NFL's ongoing health and safety efforts, in September 2016, Commissioner Goodell launched Play Smart. Play Safe.—a league-wide health and safety initiative. At the heart of the initiative is a pledge of $100 million in support for independent medical research and engineering advancements and a commitment to look at anything and everything to protect our players and make our game safer, including enhancements to medical protocols and improvements to how our game is taught and played. For more information about the NFL's health and safety efforts, please visit

About Comcast Corporation

Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA) is a global media and technology company with two primary businesses, Comcast Cable and NBCUniversal. Comcast Cable is one of the nation's largest video, high-speed Internet and phone providers to residential customers under the XFINITY brand and also provides these services to businesses. NBCUniversal operates news, entertainment and sports cable networks, the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, television production operations, television station groups, Universal Pictures and Universal Parks and Resorts. Visit for more information.

About SportsEngine

Helping the world play smarter and live more, SportsEngine, Inc., an NBC Sports Group company, is the leading provider of Sport Life Management mobile applications for coaches, parents, and athletes and Sports Relationship Management tools for governing bodies, leagues, clubs, associations and events. SportsEngine, Inc. powers over 750,000 teams, leagues, and clubs, helping them manage, connect, and communicate with a diverse range of stakeholders, including athletes, parents, administrators, coaches, referees, scouts, volunteers, fans, journalists, and sponsors. Founded in 2008, SportsEngine, Inc. is based in Minneapolis, MN. For more information, please visit; like the company on Facebook at; or follow SportsEngine on Twitter at @sportsengine.

About NBC Sports Ventures

NBC Sports Ventures is the business development and investment arm of NBC Sports Group, and works alongside Comcast Ventures and to evaluate investment opportunities in venture stage sports, esports, and gaming-related businesses for NBC Sports, NBCSN and Golf Channel. Properties under the NBC Sports Ventures umbrella include the American Century Golf Championship, the Red Bull Signature Series, the Lucas Oil Motocross Championships, the National Dog Show, Reebok Spartan Race, Nitro Circus, and the Universal Open esports tournament.

About Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit organization committed to clinical practice, education and research, providing expert, comprehensive care to everyone who needs healing. For more information, visit or