3 Sports Tech Startups Win NFL Funding to Address Safety Concerns

For years, the NFL has had to own up to accusations of unsafe play. With retired players developing the symptoms of CTE and the increased amount of injuries to current players, the future of football is constantly in flux. The NFL understands that safety is a serious problem. Unfortunately, they don’t know how to fix it. Fortunately, they’ve enlisted the help of three startups to develop safety technology for players in the future.

“We think technology is our friend,” said Commissioner Roger Goodell during a roundtable discussion. “Technology is going to help solve these complex problems for us.”

At the league’s second annual 1st and Future event at the Texas Medical Center Innovation Institute, the NFL took a step forward in their commitment to protecting their players by funding three startups that are focused on a wide range of safety concerns. They competed with a number of other startups in hopes of locking down the $50,000 prize for the NFL.

“I think what captivated the judges and grabbed our interest is these are translational ideas,” said Jeff Miller, the NFL’s executive vice president for health and safety initiatives. “You can imagine these things being on a field of play, whether at the NFL level or at lower levels of our sport relatively quickly.”

The three startups that came away with the funding address everything from on-field communication to innovative padding systems to protect players. Check them out below and keep an eye out for this revolutionary tech on the gridiron next season.


This startup created the only playmaking technology that combines intelligent software and on-field wearable products to enhance practice for high school, college, and professional football teams.

Mobile Virtual Player

This company designs, markets and distributes motorized tackling dummies, or “virtual players,” that reduce the risk of getting injured while tackling during practice.


This startup, led by former NFL cornerback Shawn Springs, developed a padding system designed to absorb and disperse impact energy to improve the performance of helmets and other protective gear.

Photo: Flickr / Keith Allison

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Written by:
Conor is the Lead Writer for Tech.co. For the last six years, he’s covered everything from tech news and product reviews to digital marketing trends and business tech innovations. He's written guest posts for the likes of Forbes, Chase, WeWork, and many others, covering tech trends, business resources, and everything in between. He's also participated in events for SXSW, Tech in Motion, and General Assembly, to name a few. He also cannot pronounce the word "colloquially" correctly. You can email Conor at conor@tech.co.
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