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Calling all sports tech startups: The NFL wants to hear your ideas.

The league is hosting 1st and Future, its annual Super Bowl startup competition, next month in Houston on Feb. 4, the day before Super Bowl LI.

Accepted companies will be put into three categories — Communicating with the Athlete, Training the Athlete, and Materials to Protect the Athlete — and pitch their ideas to a group of judges that includes former NFL players, entrepreneurs, investors, and medical professionals. Winners from each category will receive $50,000, two tickets to the Super Bowl in Houston, and acceptance into TMCx, a startup accelerator housed inside Texas Medical Center, which is co-hosting the competition and will live-stream it here.

Interested startups, which must be early-stage and have raised a Series A round or less, can apply at this link; the deadline is Jan. 20. Here are more specific details on the categories:

  • Communicating with the Athlete: New technologies that will improve the secure and safe means of communication between a coach on the sideline or in the coaches’ booth and a designated player on the field.
  • Training the Athlete: Educational and training innovations designed to reduce injury during practice or competition. Innovations may include training techniques or equipment.
  • Materials to Protect the Athlete: Novel or innovative solutions and materials that advance player health and safety while allowing for the highest-level of performance. Innovations may include, but are not limited to, materials that: improve breathability, heat dissipation or provide better protection for players by absorbing or mitigating force. These materials may be incorporated into protective equipment, padding, uniforms or footwear among other potential.

Last year, the NFL, Stanford, and TechCrunch hosted the inaugural 1st and Future event in Silicon Valley. The winning startups were Kenzen; HYP3R; and LiveLike; the categories were “The Future Stadium” (improving the fan experience at games), “Bringing Home The Game” (improving the at-home viewing experience), and “Tomorrow’s Athlete” (improving the performance and safety of athletes).

Earlier this month, the NFL Players Association, the union for NFL players, launched the OneTeam Collective, a new organization modeled after a business accelerator but with its own spin that brings together the power of the NFL with a first-class list of founding partners that includes Intel, Harvard Innovation Lab, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB), LeadDog Marketing Group, Madrona Venture Group and the Sports Innovation Lab.

Editor’s note: Texas Medical is a GeekWire advertiser.

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