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IIT-Madras to provide funds to incubate sports-tech startups

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Aiming to create a deeper linkage between technology and the sporting industry leading to the creation of products and applications that enhance sporting excellence, IIT-Madras will extend funds up to Rs 5 crore to incubate novel sports-tech start-ups in India. These start-ups will have at their core AI and IoT-based products involving sensors, networks, actuators, and controllers and will also lead to the establishment of a sports tech incubator fund within IIT Madras. The funds would be extended by the IIT-Madras Pravartak Technologies Foundation and IIT Madras Centre of Excellence in Sports Science and Analytics (CESSA), a source said.

Media and entertainment/content/streaming platform, fan/player engagement /gamification, athlete/ player performance – measurement, enhancement, team and coach success, esports, sports education, sports data analytics and fan engagement with metrics, insights and gamification, sports commerce and sports communities, are among the broad areas identified for the sports tech.

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Start-ups looking to seek support through this can apply through the following link: https://incubation.pravartak.org.in/login

The first stage shortlisted submissions will be called to present their business during the ‘IIT Madras Sports Technology Start-up Conclave’ scheduled for June 14-15, at IIT Madras Research Park. The event will be India’s first such conclave for this sector. Post evaluation by an eminent panel and final evaluation by IIT Madras CESSA and Pravartak Technologies, the shortlisted start-ups and the extent of funding will be finalised.

“As a centre, we want to create a deeper linkage between technology and the sporting industry and also lead the development of the overall eco-system to create products and applications that enhance sporting excellence,” said Ramesh Kumar, Chief Executive Officer of CESSA, and a former global head of ESPNCricinfo.

“We believe that initiatives like these will create more players in this space and we will be working closely with players both in the public and private space towards this end,” he added.

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Prof Mahesh Panchagnula, Dean (Alumni and Corporate Relations), IIT Madras, and head of CESSA, said the conclave will be a turning point in the country’s sports tech innovation practice as India prepares to bid to host the Olympics. The investment support, post all rounds of evaluation, can range from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 50 lakh per start-up. The funding would be based on the business potential with an equity stake by IITM Pravartak Technologies Foundation and support from IITM CESSA during the incubation process. The start-ups can even be in an idea/initial stage provided they have incorporated their company and IPR, he said.

IITM CESSA will also provide to the start-ups a high-tech sports infrastructure and Tech Support besides access to a comprehensive startup ecosystem and data centre available for research.

Elaborating, Shankar Raman, IIT-Madras Pravartak Technologies Foundation, said “We believe in encouraging entrepreneurs who are using technology to enhance the performance of the athletes and make them globally competitive.”

Till May 2024, the IIT-Madras Incubation Cell has incubated 351 start-ups, which have attracted a total investment of Rs 10,425 crore from angel investors and VCs and have a combined valuation of Rs 45,000 crore. The start-ups generated Rs 3,600 crore in revenue during financial year 2022-23 and ensured jobs to over 10,000 persons besides filing 210-plus patents.

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