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Sodexo Live!, a hospitality and concessions partner for sports and entertainment venues, has launched a new North America Innovation Lab to work with startups developing products to improve venue operations and the fan experience at live events. Startups can apply for Sodexo Live!’s new North American accelerator program through Sept. 12. The program is being held in partnership with global innovation specialist L Marks.

The accelerator is looking for startups whose solutions address themes such as:

  • Recruiting employee talent
  • Adding AR and VR fan experiences to venues
  • Sustainability
  • Frictionless fan entry
  • Point-of-sale touchpoints
  • Predictive analytics for optimizing venue space and internal operations

Selected startups will work with mentors over a ten-week program to trial their products in a live event environment.

Sodexo Live! Recently signed a deal through 2026 to become the hospitality partner for the French Open at Roland Garros. The company handles hospitality, food and beverage services for US venues such as Nashville Superspeedway, Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, and T-Mobile Park in Seattle. Earlier this MLB season, Sodexo Live! opened an Amazon Just Walk Out store at T-Mobile Park for fans during Mariners games.

Among Sodexo Live!’s competitors in the venue hospitality space is Levy, which launched its DBK Studio innovation arm earlier this year that operates similarly to Sodexo’s new accelerator. DBK Studio partners with technology startups to deploy new services across Levy’s 250 venues, such as adding Mantis XR’s QR codes to the St. Louis Blues’ arena to power a new online virtual locker room merchandise shopping platform for fans.

“We literally receive a hundred inbound ideas a month from companies that feel they’ve created the magic elixir to achieve fan, guest nirvana,” Levy president & CEO Andy Lansing told Sports Business Journal. “What DBK Studio does is, through a team of experts in all areas of our business, formalizes the process by which we bring new technology to market.”

Levy’s DBK Studio also worked with drone delivery startup Valqari to add drone deliveries for fans ordering food at Purdue University’s baseball field. American Airlines Center, home to the Dallas Mavericks, collaborated with DBK Studio to debut two autonomous checkout-free food and beverage stores in April that are powered by Standard AI’s computer vision cameras.

Another hospitality and concessionaire provider to sports venues alongside Sodexo Live! and Levy is Aramark, which has partnered with TendedBar to add its facial recognition-powered cocktail ordering machine to Empower Field at Mile High, the home of the Denver Broncos. Aramark also debuted mobile robot food delivery for fans at Capital One Arena during NHL playoff games in May through its partnership with delivery robot startup Tortoise.

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