PORTLAND, Ore. -- Nike Inc. in March will launch a new three-month startup accelerator in Portland to build off the company's Nike+ platform by nurturing companies building technology that promotes athletic activity.
The Nike+ Accelerator program will be powered by TechStars, the nationally renowned program that helps fund, build and launch tech startups. It will run from March to June and feature 10 startups that will be given $20,000 in capital to build a health and fitness-related technology during a three-month immersion program featuring access to some of the tech industry's biggest names.
The list of mentors includes Naveen Selvadurai, co-founder of FourSquare; Stefan Olander, Nike's vice president of digital sport; David Cohen, founder and CEO of TechStars; and Tim Ferriss, a "quantified-self guru" and best-selling author of "The 4-Hour Work week."
In a news release, Nike said the accelerator will be based in Portland not far from its World Headquarters in Washington County, though it will also include a day visiting Silicon Valley. Once the participants are chosen, Nike will provide them with development tools, office facilities, "technical platforms" and support to create programs using the Nike+ Application Program Interface and the Nike+ mobile software development kit.
The accelerator program is Nike's biggest statement yet in its recent embrace of digital technology.
So far this year, Nike debuted the Nike+ FuelBand, a digital wristband that helps encourage daily physical activity. Its Nike+ footwear program, which features technology embedded in the shoes that allows athletes to monitor their performance using a mobile app, was expanded from only running shoes to now include basketball and training footwear. And the company released a Nike+ training program for the Xbox 360 Kinect video game system.
There is more in the pipeline. In August the company received a patent for technology that involves embedding sensors in soccer balls and other equipment to gather data on athletes participating in team sports.
In partnering with TechStars, Nike links up with a program that has attracted more than $275 million in venture capital for its alumni companies over the past six years. Portland startups Vizify and Cloudability are among the local companies to participate in TechStars programs.
Nike has set up a website for the program — Nikeaccelerator.com — where interested companies can apply. The application deadline is February 3, and the chosen companies will be notified by the end of February.
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