With John Elway, Russell Okung and Mac Freeman on hand to host a panel, the Broncos hosted the Global Sports Innovation competition before the finals in Rio. (photos by Ben Swanson)
DENVER —** The potential futures of exercise apparel and accessories, electronic communications, recovery technology and training gear were all in one room at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Wednesday evening, hoping to push their burgeoning products to the next level.
Energy was high in the United Club section on the west side of the stadium, and for good reason. At stake was a trip to Rio de Janeiro to advance to the final stage of the Global Innovation in Sports Competition, which awards the ultimate winner a prize of 100,000 Euros (112,612.50 USD).
Ultimately, Stryd — a Boulder company innovating into the world of running that catalogs workout data and provides audio feedback — won the night, which was also hosted by Black Lab Sports and produced by the HYPE Foudnation.
"With so many interesting concepts representing a wide range of approaches to innovation in sports, it was a very difficult judging process that lasted longer than expected," said judge Brady Kellogg, Vice President of Corporate Partnerships for the Broncos.
"In making our selection, we looked at the size of the market. Some competitors fell off. Others rose up. Another primary area of focus among the jury was the team. In this type of process it is always challenging to level the playing field with companies at different stages. Finally, we evaluated what was unique about each concept in terms of barrier for other companies to get into their space. We wish Stryd the best of luck in the next round in Rio."
The other competitors included:
- BRACEUNDER:Adjustable and custom tights designed to function better with athletic braces.
- ENERGYbits: Algae tabs that help eliminate fatigue and hunger quickly, with plant-based spirulina food that avoids caffeine, sugar and more.
- Game Time Giving: A fundraising app for sports teams that helps raise money for non-profits at events.
- Lumenus: Illuminated wearable technology from apparel to accessories like bags and bands.
- LUNA WEAR: A machine-washable/dryable illuminated exercise shirt to help with visibility at night, with an eye for fashion.
- Recoup Fitness: Recovery products, including cold therapy roller balls.
- Stationfy: A network to connect with athletes and teams, and to receive notifications
- Teamsnap: A website and network for organizing and communicating with teammates in a created league, as in a little-league baseball team or recreational league.
- YourSports: A social network for athletes and teams, adding a connected database.
But it wasn't just that. Broncos Executive Vice President of Football Operations/General Manager John Elway, offensive tackle Russell Okung and Senior Vice President of Business Development Mac Freeman joined the event as part of a panel on the advent of technology in professional football, from the field to the stadium and fan experience.
With Elway and Okung's experiences as players and as investors, and Freeman's experience on the business side with the Broncos, listeners got to hear multiple sides of technological innovation.
"Well, I played in the last century — I like to say that — but when I look at technology, I think for the players it changes tremendously how to treat your body, how they train," Elway said. "To me, that's been the biggest change as far as football players today and yesteryear. If you talk about technology on the field, when I was playing, the biggest thing was speaking: coach-to-player communication."
Freeman's perspective reflected more on the Broncos' focus on fan experience regardless of their location, in the stadium or outside it. "The market is changing," Freeman said. "Fans want much more info. They want fantasy stats, they want replays, they want more video, they want to see more camera angles, they want to have insight into a whole bunch of other aspects of the game. I think the biggest change is multiple technology systems that are pushing through information delivering to the fans and what they're calling for."