The Global Sports Venture Studio, the business incubator program created by the Los Angeles Dodgers and R/GA Ventures, has aligned with a series of top-tier sports entities that will become founding partners of the effort and give them access to early-stage technology startups.
The Studio, formerly known as the Los Angeles Dodgers Accelerator before an expansion and renaming earlier this year, has partnered with Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, Major League Soccer, Octagon, UEFA, Fox Sports, Levy Restaurants and its E15 analytics subsidiary, Adidas and Dick’s Sporting Goods. Each property and company will have the ability to work with startups selected for the program, and in many cases those relationships will ultimately lead to equity investments.
“This group of partners gives us a great deal of breadth and scale throughout the industry to help drive innovation,” said Tucker Kain, the Dodgers’ chief financial partner and managing director of Elysian Park Ventures, the investment arm of club owner Guggenheim Baseball Management. “We see innovation as really a team sport, and the group that has been assembled here is a recognition of that.”
The specific engagements between startups selected for The Studio and the founding partners will vary greatly. But key components will include mentoring from senior-level executives, and the ability to use intellectual property from the founding partners in the development and execution of pilot tests by the startups. As a result, the creation of the group of founding partners is aimed at providing a “last-mile” component of technology development to allow startups to move from theoretical ideas to real-world products.
For the properties and companies, the program allows a way to mine some of the best and latest technology breakthroughs. The Studio intends to engage companies across a wide range of topical areas including emerging media, gambling, data and analytics, augmented and virtual reality, e-commerce, player performance, fan engagement, facility enhancements and esports.
“The Global Sports Venture Studio provides us with a compelling opportunity to tap into emerging technologies and behaviors that promise to resonate with our young and diverse fan base,” said Gary Stevenson, MLS Business Ventures president and managing director.
For MLS, the involvement in The Studio as a founding partner adds to a separate partnership announced late last month in which R/GA Ventures will aid the league in identifying new technologies and opportunities to work with startups.
The Studio does not have any limits on the number of companies it works with or investment levels.