GSI announces 3rd annual Sun Devil Athletics Venture Challenge with SDA, Arizona Coyotes

$50,000 in grant funding available along with pilot opportunities and mentorship for sport-focused startups

3rd Annual Sun Devil Athletics Venture Challenge from ASU Global Sport Institute and Arizona Coyotes

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Global Sport Institute at Arizona State University is convening local industry and academic partners in the third annual Sun Devil Athletics Venture Challenge this spring, adding the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes into its sports pitch competition for an innovative collaboration among Arizona sports leaders.

This venture challenge, cohosted by GSI and ASU’s J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovation Institute, will help establish new and innovative sport concepts that can be launched, piloted, and scaled within the organizations’ facilities and programs. By combining previous pitch competitions with SDA and the Coyotes, respectively, for a bigger event with more resources up for grabs, GSI and Edson E+I will provide a launchpad for aspiring entrepreneurs, while keeping SDA and the Coyotes at the forefront of sport innovation.

The call for applications for the Sun Devil Athletics x Arizona Coyotes Venture Challenge begins today, and finalists will compete in a hybrid virtual/live pitch competition in late April 2023 at Mullett Arena, the home of the Coyotes and ASU’s NCAA Division I Ice Hockey Team in Tempe, Arizona.

“Each year the Venture Challenge grows exponentially in both the success of its sport-focused ventures and the scope of exploration and innovation that positively affects the sports industry. I’m proud to say that this year is no different,” said Vice President of University Athletics Ray Anderson. “We look forward to further welcoming the Arizona Coyotes into the Arizona State University community as we come together to foster the next generation of sports entrepreneurs.”

ASU and the Coyotes entered into an innovative agreement last year allowing the Coyotes to temporarily utilize Mullett Arena as their home arena while they plan a potential permanent move to bring the NHL to Tempe. The Coyotes’ involvement in the upcoming SDA Venture Challenge furthers this partnership and adds additional funding and subject matter expertise to GSI’s already-robust venture development track geared toward early-stage startups in the growing sport industry.

"We are honored to once again team up with the Global Sport Institute and Arizona State University to support ASU students, faculty and community-based entrepreneurs through their third annual SDA Venture Challenge," said Arizona Coyotes President & CEO Xavier A. Gutierrez. "Now, more than ever, sports teams must develop and leverage cutting-edge technologies to engage fans in and out of their arenas, deliver unique and compelling content, and operate as best-in-class business enterprises. Innovation makes us better, on and off the ice, and this challenge aligns with our key focus on innovation and tech enabled products and services to provide our fans, and fans in waiting, with the best possible in-arena experience. We look forward to being presented with many great concepts by these young entrepreneurs."

In past venture challenges, GSI has partnered with both SDA and the Coyotes to award resources to successful sport-based startups including Nextiles, Suji BFR, and VBAmerica. By bringing both sports organizations together at ASU, GSI and Edson E+I can offer a broader reach and greater resources for winning ventures.

GSI and Edson E+I are seeking applicants that are working in the areas of venue innovation, immersive technology, fan engagement, athlete training & performance, sustainability, NIL, data analytics, and community relations/social impact.  


“We are proud to bring two of Arizona’s premier sports organizations together to expand and strengthen their focus on innovation while helping us continue to invest in the next generation of sport entrepreneurs,” said Jeff Kunowski, associate director of innovation programs at GSI. “This spring’s venture challenge with SDA and the Coyotes will be our biggest yet, and we look forward to hearing from early-stage startups throughout the industry.”

Applications are now open and will close on Friday, April 7th, 2023. The challenge will culminate with a hybrid live/virtual pitch competition in late April 2023. Applicants do not need to be affiliated with Arizona State University to apply. Those interested in applying can apply directly here:

Venture Success

The Global Sport Institute and its partners have provided over $300k in grant funding to sport-focused ventures.

Nextiles won top prize at the Fall 2021 SDA Venture Challenge and has since gone on to be recognized as a Top 10 most innovative sports tech company by the Sports Business Journal and recently closed its $5M seed round led by Drive by DraftKings, with participation from the NBA, Madison Square Garden Sports Corp., Alumni Ventures, SmartSports, Phoenix Capital Ventures and Newlab.

Suji BFR won top prize at the Fall 2021 AZ Coyotes Venture Challenge and has since gone on to receive a six-figure investment in a round led by BioCity Group and form partnerships with sports organizations including the Kansas City Chiefs and the University of Maryland.

VBAmerica won third prize at the Spring 2022 SDA Venture Challenge and has since gone on to partner with Sun Devil Campus Stores and recently closed licensing deals with the University of Arizona, Northern Arizona University, University of Southern California, and others.


About Sun Devil Athletics:

For more than a century, Sun Devil Athletics has achieved legendary success on and off the field. With 26 intercollegiate varsity sports and more than 650 student-athletes representing Arizona State University, Sun Devil Athletics today is a force that brings even greater attention to the country's most innovative university (U.S. News & World Report, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021,2022, 2023), while also engaging the regional community through thousands of volunteer service hours. Seeking the highest-possible bar of excellence, Sun Devil Athletics shapes student-athletes who are successful academically and athletically, and who are prepared for success following graduation. Championship performance, integrity, graduation and tradition are hallmarks of the Sun Devil Way.

About AZ Coyotes:

The Arizona Coyotes are a National Hockey League franchise owned by Chairman and Governor Alex Meruelo. The Arizona Coyotes play in the Central Division of the Western Conference. For the latest news and information on the Coyotes, please visit Fans can follow the team on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

About Global Sport Institute at Arizona State University:

The Global Sport Institute is where diverse disciplines converge to thoughtfully examine critical issues impacting sport. As a cross-disciplinary enterprise, the institute's efforts are integrated throughout the entire university - from engineering to sociology, to the athletic department and beyond - rather than within a single concentration. With an emphasis on expanding research, sharing knowledge, supporting innovation and advancing education, the institute's mission is to use sport to create positive change throughout the world. Through its partnership with the J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovation Institute, the Institute offers start-ups access to an extensive array of curriculum, workshops, advisors, funding and other university resources. Follow the Institute on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. More information at:

About the J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovation Institute at Arizona State University:

The J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovation Institute serves as a premiere connecting and collaborating conduit across Arizona State University, the greater Phoenix community, nationwide and throughout the world. The Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovation Institute helps propel entrepreneurial aspirations by way of opportunities to explore, share, test and advance ideas. As a central source of information, resources and people, engaging with the Edson E+I Institute is to develop an entrepreneurial mindset, engage with global and local events and communities, and launch an idea through mentoring, funding, spaces and commercialization. Follow Edson E+I on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. More information at: