14 Jan IU Angel Network Sports Innovation Initiative
In 1957, when storied IU swimming and diving coach Doc Counsilman took the reigns as head coach, he did what most every head coach does when inheriting a franchise. He took a step back and started to measure his athletes and examine the facilities to make an improvement plan for the future. That’s par for the course, but what took Doc above and beyond your average coach was his fervent passion for that data collection. Between 1958 and his retirement in 1990, Doc was equal parts scientist and instructor, tirelessly looking for new ways to collect critical data and use it to improve his coaching strategies.
Swimmers underwent rigorous physical examinations during which Doc studied their vitals following a workout. Interval pace clocks became an integral part of his approach to better understanding his swimmers’ times and how to continuously beat them. An underwater viewing platform was installed at the Royer Pool where Doc and his coaching staff could observe and videotape swimmers to better understand lift and stroke techniques. Doc took these insights and the lessons he learned from them around the world. The results were impressive as his student athletes earned every swimming record in the world.
Doc led IU team to six national titles in a row on the back of this reseach-driven approach to coaching. He was chosen to lead the U.S. Men’s Swimming head coach for the Olympics twice and he made a name for himself worldwide as a leading researcher working to push the sport of swimming ever forward.
It should come as no surprise that this high-tech style of coaching was right at home at IU, a university with a long and storied history of excellence not just in sports, but in innovation and technological development. In addition to sports, IU’s innovative research efforts have led to innovations that have made a significant impact on our society and economy including such things as Crest toothpaste, modern hospital beds and cancer research that contributed to Lance Armstrong’s victory over the disease some 20 years ago.
With innovation being at the heart of Indiana University’s continuing mission, it’s possible to imagine what the next major sports technology development will be. What will be the 2020’s equivalent to Doc’s underwater videography? What will be the next major innovation that changes the game again?
These are questions IU Ventures thought were worth answering. That is why two years ago we began exploring the convergence of sports and technology and what that would look like today. It all started with an event for the IU School of Informatics. We connected the school and its students with the IU Athletics department to better understand the wearables that IU student athletes use to measure their bodies as they respond to the high-intensity workouts and athletics they pursue. That event led to a new relationship between IU’s best and brightest in both athletics and technology, which today carries on that proud tradition Doc started so many years ago. All it took to get started was a bridge between the two.
It’s in that spirit that IU Ventures, an organization of bridge builders, has committed to a significant investment of time, effort, and money into the development of new and exciting sports technologies to benefit our campus community of student athletes, and beyond. Alongside the important work we’re doing to nurture and invest in IU-affiliated technology startups, we are thrilled to announce a new movement dedicated exclusively to sports technology innovation. We will do this by connecting investors with talented IU students, faculty and community entrepreneurs.
In short, we’re working to take everything we’ve learned in the development and growth of our Angel Network and Philanthropic Venture Fund and apply those best practices to a focused, proactive effort designed to jumpstart sports tech innovation in the IU community.
Right now, somewhere in the world, an athlete is struggling to learn why their technique isn’t producing the results they’re looking for. Right now, hidden in a dorm room or remote living room, there’s an IU student who is passionate about enhancing the at-home fan viewing experience and putting together a plan to leverage their education in technology to do something incredible. In the spirit of Doc Counsilman, right now there’s an IU coach working to understand how to utilize the technology locked inside the smart watch on her best athlete’s wrist. All that’s left is the bridge that connects it all.
Let’s build that bridge together.
In partnership with the IU Athletic Department and the IUPUI Sports Innovation Institute, the IU Angel Network has launched the IU Angel Network Sports Innovation Initiative to bridge the gap with founders’ ideas and building an investment case around a fundable business proposition.
“This new IU Angel Network programming allows us to capitalize on IU’s long and illustrious history of success in all sports and as a leader in technology development”, said Tony Armstrong, president and CEO of IU Ventures. “This new vision of sports includes health and life sciences, data analytics, materials and apparel and e-sports which provides is a new opportunity to engage with both our students and alumni in a more meaningful way”
The IU Angel Network has created an internal advisory committee made up of world class sports industry executives, former professional athletes and representation from IU Athletics. The goal is to connect sports-related startups founded by IU alumi with the appropriate support and expertise to facilitate bringing their ideas to the commercial market. This provides an opportunity for the IU Athletic Department to issue innovation challenges back to the IU entrepreneurial community to uncover new solutions; while paving the way to leading in the adoption, integration, and development phases of cutting-edge technology that can bring about enhanced athletic performance or augment the at-home experience for fans.
An accomplished Advisory Committee has been assembled to help drive the initiative forward:
· Kerry Perry – Founder and CEO: KP Invest
· Brian Carroll – Sr. Vice President, Global Media Distribution: LPGA Tour
· Jeremy Gray – Sr. Associate Athletic Director for Strategic Communications & Director of the Cuban Center: Indiana University Athletics
· Steve Aird – Head Women’s Volleyball Coach: Indiana University Athletics
Founders interested in engaging in the programming or angel investors interested in the sports start-up space should reach out to IU Angel Network Executive Director Jason Whitney for more information at www.iuventures.com.