The National Basketball Association and Intel Capital are combining in a joint effort to fund innovative companies at the intersection of technology, sports and entertainment.
The new Emerging Technology Initiative will be a collaborative effort between the NBA and the Intel Capital group to identify challenges and opportunities where new technology can applied that enhance the fan experience in NBA games and drive the sports technology community forward.
"Executives from different areas of our business will work with Intel Capital executives to evaluate those opportunities, drawing on the deep experience that Intel Capital has in working with start-ups,"
Jeff Marsilio, SVP for New Media Distribution, NBA.
Intel Capital, the investment arm of the computer processor giant, has announced $72 million in funding for the 12 newest start-ups to enter its portfolio, bringing the total invested so far this year to $115 million. Announced at the company’s global summit, investments in this latest wave cover artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, cloud services, and silicon.
The NBA is most interested in finding those companies that have new technology solutions with the capacity of enhancing the NBA game on the court, the fan experience and more broadly, the sports industry across the globe.
Intel Capital President Wendell Brooks noted that venture investments in sports reached $1.5 billion in 2017 as well has his belief that sports will be defined by even more technology disruption in the next five years.
The new arrangement expands upon Intel's existing bond with the NBA, which includes Intel as an authorized provider of virtual reality as well as a founding partner of the NBA 2K League. Details of the investments, including whether other partners will be included in funding opportunities and how much money will be set aside for this new fund were not disclosed.
Intel Capital since 1991 has put $12.3 billion into 1,530 companies covering everything from autonomous driving to virtual reality and e-commerce and says that more than 660 of these start-ups have gone public or been acquired. Intel has organised its investment announcements thematically before: last October, it announced $60 million in 15 big data start-ups.