The National Basketball Association (NBA) has set its sights on advancing women's basketball and harnessing sports technology innovation in the third installment of its sports technology incubator, NBA Launchpad. This initiative offers critical support, resources, and access to investors for early-stage companies, aligning with the NBA's strategic priorities both on and off the basketball court.
For the year 2024, the NBA is partnering with the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) to seek out groundbreaking innovations that can address several key objectives. These include tackling participation challenges, injury prevention, and performance enhancement within women's basketball. Notably, female athletes often face a higher dropout rate in youth sports, and the underinvestment in health research and performance technology tailored for women has contributed to an elevated risk of injuries.
In the upcoming season of NBA Launchpad, the league is also on the lookout for innovations aimed at injury prevention, management, and treatment, with the goal of enabling players, teams, and fans to enjoy more time on the basketball court. The areas of biomechanical analysis software and artificial intelligence (AI) hold particular interest in this context.
Expanding its global footprint and identifying talent in Asia is another priority for the NBA. Leveraging the popularity of basketball in regions like China and East and Southeast Asia, the league aims to identify high-potential players earlier in their athletic journeys. This endeavour will utilise AI and consumer technology to democratise talent discovery for young athletes.
Furthermore, the NBA seeks immersive technologies for fan engagement as a means to enhance its international presence. This includes exploring technologies capable of powering 3D applications utilising player and ball tracking data, which can be integrated into its recently revamped official application. Examples include animation engines, 3D asset creation, and user capture and creation tools.
The NBA is also extending an invitation to startups that can help unlock the potential of its extensive video content library. Additionally, data analytics firms specialising in the analysis of fan behaviour are encouraged to participate in this collaborative effort. As the NBA continues to evolve and expand, these innovative pursuits are poised to shape the future of basketball and sports technology.