As professional football executives arrived in Philadelphia to ponder the next generation of talent in the 2017 NFL Draft, students from Temple University brought attention to the most-critical issue facing football: concussion prevention.
Temple University recently collaborated with sport innovation enterprise HYPE Foundation to host two on-campus events geared toward football player safety and sport innovation. (And all ideas were welcome — whether a sure touchdown, or just a Hail Mary concept.)
Students throughout Temple’s 17 schools and colleges participated in an all-day Hackathon. The April 25 event, held at Alter Hall, challenged students from all academic disciplines to create new ideas to enhance the safety of football players. Students competed for cash prizes and access to potential investors. The event lured high-profile jurists like Dan Klecko, Temple alumnus and former Philadelphia Eagles defensive lineman; Temple alumnus Cosmo DeNicola, co-owner of the Philadelphia Soul; and Ryan Tierney, Temple associate professor of kinesiology.
Eleni Latsios, a junior Entrepreneurship major, represented the first-place team — U-View. The students generated an idea for on-field technology that would allow coaches, trainers, and spectators to review plays from multiple angles and distances, in real-time and replays.
“The Hackathon workshop showed me the power of creativity and collaboration,” said Latsios. “It was a great experience working with a group of students, and hearing the other pitches that day and the next day at the pitch competition. The world of sport is innovating so rapidly and I was happy to be positioned at the forefront of that through this event.”
A day later, the Worldwide Pitch Competition welcomed 10 finalists to present their football safety ideas to sport organizations and leading investors from around the world. Also, Latsios’ team and two other finalists from the previous day’s Hackathon had an opportunity to expose their ideas to investors. The pitch competition welcomed leading judges, including: Ben Alamar, ESPN’s Director of Sports Analytics; Rod Nenner, Washington Redskins’ Vice President of Sports Marketing; and Dr. JoAnne Epps, Temple University provost.
After jury deliberation, RecoverX — a hardware technology company providing innovative products to the injury recovery market — earned the grand prize.
“Temple University and innovation go hand-in-hand,” said Alan Kerzner, assistant professor and director of Temple University’s Entrepreneurship Academy. “Our Entrepreneurship programs are nationally ranked, and our students have built a reputation for turning their ideas into thriving businesses. That’s why we were proud to align with HYPE Foundation to provide this unique opportunity for Temple University, its students, and entrepreneurs everywhere.”
The Temple-HYPE collaborative events took place days before the eyes of football fans globally turned to Philadelphia for the 2017 NFL Draft.
These events demonstrated Temple’s strength in research, innovation, and sport. The university houses undergraduate- and graduate-level Entrepreneurship programs that are ranked top-10 nationally by The Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine. Temple also is home to the renowned Sport Industry Research Center (SIRC), which provides marketing strategies to enhance the economic, social, and environmental stability of sporting events. The NFL and NCAA are among SIRC’s notable research partners.
Additionally, Temple faculty are leading the way in brain-injury research. In November, an interdisciplinary team of Temple researchers received a $20 million award for greater brain-injury research. And a Fox School of Business professor authored an academic text on head trauma from a legal and insurance perspective.
“These events offered unique opportunities for Temple University, its students, and innovators and entrepreneurs everywhere,” Kerzner added. “It was a university-wide effort involving many colleges and departments, and is hopefully just the beginning of our collaboration to help Temple expand its presence in the burgeoning sport innovation field.”
—Erin McShea and Christopher A. Vito