NEW YORK – The National Basketball Association (NBA) today announced the third installment of NBA Launchpad, the league’s initiative to source, evaluate and pilot emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence, that advance the NBA’s top basketball and business priorities.
Additionally, NBA Launchpad is collaborating with the WNBA to advance women’s basketball for athletes and fans.
Starting today, companies and entrepreneurs can apply to NBA Launchpad by submitting innovations that address one of six priority areas.
Three areas are focused on the game: Advancing Women’s Basketball, Identifying Future Stars in Asia and Improving Player Availability and Wellbeing.
The other three are focused on fan experience: Building Immersive Experiences, Enhancing the NBA Content Library and Uncovering Next-Gen Fan Insights.
The application portal will also have an open category for companies and entrepreneurs outside of the priority areas who want to be considered for this year’s NBA Launchpad program.
Following a rigorous evaluation process, selected applicants will participate in a six-month research and development project within the NBA’s ecosystem.
As part of NBA Launchpad, companies and entrepreneurs will receive access to NBA resources, hands-on support and other unique incentives to develop their technologies.
At the conclusion of the program, NBA Launchpad companies will present to NBA executives, strategic partners and investors during Demo Day at NBA Summer League 2024.
The NBA Launchpad program is part of the league’s larger direct-to-consumer efforts.
By investing in the development of new technologies, the league looks to continue its innovation around the fan experience, building upon the reimagined NBA App and NBA ID membership program launched ahead of the 2022-23 season.
Descriptions of 2024 priority areas are below.
Advancing Women’s Basketball
Over the past five seasons, the WNBA has experienced significant growth in viewership, attendance and player popularity, yet female athletes continue to face various challenges, including higher rates of dropping out of youth sports, increased risk of injury and underinvestment in health and performance technologies specifically designed for women.
To enhance the women’s basketball experience, the NBA and WNBA are seeking solutions that will increase basketball participation, decrease risk of injury or improve performance for female athletes.
Identifying Future Stars in Asia
The NBA is a global league, with 120 international players from 41 countries and six continents on 2022-23 opening-night rosters. As basketball continues to grow globally, the NBA is looking to ensure that players from all around the world, including in regions less represented in the NBA, can be evaluated and discovered.
While the NBA continues to grow the game in these regions, there is an opportunity to leverage AI and consumer technology to help identify high-potential players from Asia earlier in their athletic careers. To execute this vision, the NBA is seeking scalable and accessible technologies that can democratize talent discovery for youth athletes.
Improving Player Availability and Wellbeing
Over the past several years, there has been an increase in the number of games that star players miss each season. As teams continue to manage injuries and player participation, single-game absences are also on the rise.
To promote player wellbeing and participation over an 82-game season, the NBA is seeking technologies that can help predict and mitigate injury risk, assist in injury prevention and management, and aid in injury diagnosis and treatment. Possible solutions include biomechanical analysis software, AI-enabled injury risk forecasting models and precision sensing technologies.
The Fan Experience
Building Immersive Experiences
As a league with a young, tech-savvy fanbase, immersive and mixed reality experiences have become increasingly important to the league’s fan engagement efforts, helping to bring fans across the globe closer to the game. Developments in this space such as real-time 3D player and ball tracking data advancements have unlocked new and reimagined fan-facing experiences that allow fans to engage with on-court action like never before.
The NBA is seeking technology that can power 3D applications of NBA data in immersive environments on digital platforms, particularly on the NBA App. Potential areas of interest include animation engines, 3D asset creation and user capture and creator tooling.
Enhancing the NBA Content Library
The NBA has an industry-leading content archive with dozens of petabytes worth of files stretching back more than 75 years.
To enable fans to experience the NBA’s rich history and compelling storylines in new and innovative ways, the league is seeking partners and technologies that can analyze and enhance video in this vast media database.
Uncovering Next-Gen Fan Insights
The NBA and WNBA have more than 1 billion fans globally. As with all sports, though, the leagues’ relationships with fans are evolving. Fans are increasingly captivated by the intersection of sports and culture and are engaging with NBA and WNBA content and athletes through a multitude of platforms.
In response, the NBA and WNBA are seeking technologies to analyze fan behaviors, uncover predictive insights to drive personalization, and identify new touchpoints (e.g., cross-platform content, customizable merchandise and opportunities for direct content creation).