Rice Awards $800,000 to Propel DivInc’s Sports Tech Accelerator Forward

Rice University is awarding an $800,000 grant over three years to DivInc to fund the operation of accelerators designed to support diverse founders building innovative startups shaping the technology of tomorrow. The grant supports DivInc’s mission to generate social and economic equity through entrepreneurship and address the capital gap to produce thriving startup companies’ success and will provide funding for the company to operate a number of accelerators.

“We’ve been in Houston since 2021, so we’re extremely honored and grateful to partner with Rice University,” said CEO and founder of DivInc Preston James. “Leveraging the top university sports management program in the U.S., Rice’s highly ranked sports medicine and sport analytics programs, we’re providing exceptional value to our portfolio of companies. For us, it’s about fostering success for our founders. Sports tech is a vast and rapidly growing industry that represents a tremendous opportunity for diverse founders. We are undoubtedly creating an ecosystem of support where our founders can thrive and drive innovation. We are just warming up.”

DivInc recently launched its second 12-week Sports Tech Accelerator cohort last month, which will support diverse founders and startups who are using technology to enhance human performance, fan experience, fantasy sports and betting, future of media, NIL (name, image and likeness) innovation and stadium and venue innovation.

The accelerator’s mentors include executives from the Houston Rockets, Houston Astros, San Antonio Spurs, Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship, Mercury Fund, The Collectiv, HTX Sports Tech and more.The 10 selected startups of the 2024 cohort will be able to receive up to $100,000 worth of resources, access curriculum designed to take startups to pre-seed and seed stage and access perks for products and services to build, manage and scale a startup. These startups represent unique innovations in fan activation and engagement platforms, a wearable hydration monitoring sensor, a scouting automation powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and more.

“We have strategically created one of the nation’s premier accelerator programs in Houston, Texas, dedicated to supporting BIPOC and women founders driving innovation in the sports industry by leveraging best practices and insights from stakeholders within the sports tech ecosystem,” said Ashley DeWalt, DivInc’s managing director of startups and programs. “None of this would have been possible if it weren’t for our partners, mentors, advisers, investors and entrepreneurs in residence that have worked with us over the past few years to make a necessary, meaningful and impactful change in the industry now and for years to come.”

The grant is part of several financial commitments Rice is making as part of a community benefits agreement with the city of Houston to develop the Ion District as an inclusive and welcoming environment for innovation.

“We’re really excited to be part of this to be able to support the mission of DivInc and other organizations like it to bring founders of color into the ecosystem here in our wonderful city of Houston,” said Rice President Reginald DesRoches at a celebration event for the 2024 cohort.