Philadelphia 76ers to build innovation lab at Camden practice site

The Philadelphia 76ers may be about to wrap up another underwhelming basketball season Wednesday night, but at least they’re giving the region’s entrepreneurs something to get excited about.

The franchise is working on the final touches of a 10,000 square-foot innovation lab at their training complex in Camden, N.J. The lab will look to accept companies that are at the crossroads of sports and consumer products.

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They will begin accepting applications on April 15 until the deadline on Sept. 30. The first class of companies will begin the class early next year and can stay at the facility for a six-month term. Sixers CEO Scott O’Neil said the team could incubate as many as six startups, ranging from early stage to later and growth stage.

“If you’re an entrepreneur you’re thinking, where do I want to make my leap?” O’Neil said. “We think we can provide and add value that not many people can.”

Selected members will have access to Sixers’ legal, accounting, finance, web design, marketing activation, and creative services, as well as venture capitalists at Next Stage Capital, Touchdown Ventures, Gabriel Investments, Mentortech Ventures, and Stadia Ventures, among others. Also, they can participate in core curriculum programming, including a weekly speaker series. At the end of the term, there will be a demo day and a pitch competition. The winner of the contest will receive a sponsorship from the Sixers, and O’Neil said if a company looks especially promising, the team may even pursue acquisition opportunities.

“The value that the lab provides is an opportunity for us to build a sandbox so that we can test new workplace ideas, gain rapid feedback and iterate quickly on those concepts,” Kimball CEO Mike Wagner said.

“We really understand where we think is close to the bulls-eye, which is a sports tech, B2C type of experience,” O’Neil said. “We’re interested in seeing how and when the applications come in, but we’ll take a wide philosophy.”

He added that different ideas could benefit all the Sixers’ businesses, including sales, fan experience or even player development.

The companies will be vetted by a large board including O’Neil, others Sixers leaders, and representatives from Kimball, Wharton, Next Stage, StubHub, DraftKings and The Rothman Institute at Jefferson.

After the first six months, the Sixers will evaluate whether the companies need more time at the space.

The space will be furnished by Kimball Office, which also will test new workplace ideas in the lab. The members will have access to this technology before it even hits the market.

“The value that the lab provides is an opportunity for us to build a sandbox so that we can test new workplace ideas, gain rapid feedback and iterate quickly on those concepts,” Kimball CEO Mike Wagner said.

The 76ers also turned to other professional sports team engaging in similar projects while planning for their innovation. O’Neil said he’s talked to the Los Angeles Dodgers, which have the most similar system installed.

repost from bizjournal.com

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