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The Sixers Innovation Lab: the NBA team is launching an incubator

Over the past few years, there has been a major increase in the number of corporations involved in the startup space. This includes things like corporate venture capital, corporation-sponsored incubation and acceleration programs, or various different forms of strategic investments and acquisitions/acquihires. Somewhat surprisingly, professional sports teams have gotten in on the mix as well. The L.A. Dodgers are the most visible of these clubs, and just opened applications for their second accelerator batch. Well, the Philadelphia 76ers have just joined the fray with The Sixers Innovation Lab.

76ers1 The Sixers Innovation Lab: the NBA team is launching an incubator

On Wednesday, the Philadelphia 76ers announced plans to launch the “Sixers Innovation Lab Crafted by Kimball.”1 The program will be hosted at the 76ers’ new state-of-the-art, 125,000 square foot business operations office in Camden, N.J.

In addition to its founding partner, Kimball Office, the 76ers have a huge number of collaborators in this project:

sixers--1024x623 The Sixers Innovation Lab: the NBA team is launching an incubator

Though neither the 76ers nor any of the Innovation Labs Partners say so explicitly, this is essentially an incubator program:

Selected companies will receive office space in the innovation lab furnished by Kimball Office; access to industry experts, executives, and financiers, as well as third-party consulting, legal, accounting, and business solutions services; and the opportunity to pitch industry-leading investors and venture capital firms. Selected start-ups also will have the opportunity to participate in core curriculum programs, including a speaker series and leadership training featuring executives from industry-leading companies. In addition, each of the selected companies will receive sponsorships from the Philadelphia 76ers to assist with growing their business’ marketing and customer base.2

That said, the Sixers Innovation Lab takes a relatively small equity stake for program participation, no more than 4%. While there is a financial interest for the Innovation Lab, the Sixers ownership group, as well as all of the partners, have a larger, more altruistic goal in mind:

Since acquiring the Philadelphia 76ers five years ago, Sixers ownership and management have been committed to sponsoring innovation and creativity in the greater Philadelphia region. Much of this has been focused on enhancing the fan experience and ensuring that the area continues to thrive as a center for new business creation. By launching this Innovation Lab in Camden, the Sixers are renewing their commitment to bringing innovation in the consumer, sports, media, technology, and entertainment spaces to the region and giving back to the process of creating transformative change in Camden and beyond.3

Lab The Sixers Innovation Lab: the NBA team is launching an incubator

Below is a video with a closer look at the Sixers Innovation Lab. The incubator will accept applications from April 15th to September 30th. You can apply and find more information on the Sixers Innovation Lab website.

  1. NBA.com, Sixers, “Sixers and Kimball Office Launch Plans For Sixers Innovation Lab,” 13 April 2016  
  2. NBA.com, Sixers, “Sixers and Kimball Office Launch Plans For Sixers Innovation Lab,” 13 April 2016  
  3. Sixersinnovationlab.com. “FAQs”