10:01 AM

The Rise of SportTech Panel: UST Touts Innovation and Expertise in College-Level Esports in Houston

UST's Chief Innovation Officer Dr. Beena George presents on collelge-level esports at a panel discussion Future  Focus: The Rise of SportTech. Seated next to her is  panelist Jorge Ortiz, CEO/Founder at Varsity Hype.UST Chief Innovation Officer, Dr. Beena George, participated in an exciting panel discussion with other Houston-based thought leaders, founders, and investors on “Future Focus: The Rise of SportTech.”

Panelists included Moderator David Gow, who recently completed a SPAC for sportstech; Dr. Beena George, chief innovation officer at the University of St. Thomas; Tom Stallings, professor of Sports Management at Rice University;  Josh Ledesma,  co-founder at Apollo Media, Jimmy Comerota, director of Strategic Partnerships, Astros; and Jorge Ortiz, CEO/Founder at Varsity Hype.

The panel shared their insights on how technology was transforming the world and related it to how the city of Houston can emerge as a leader in sports technology.

The conversation focused on four areas where multi-billion-dollar businesses emerge seemingly overnight. Across these categories, technology is enabling interconnectedness, social interaction, new Moderator David Gow; Panelists Dr. Beena George, Jorge Ortiz, Tom Stallings, Josh Ledesma, and Jimmy Comerotacommunities, improved health, subscriber-based business models, software as a service, and new revenue streams.

  • Esports
  • Gambling
  • Health/performance
  • Fan engagement

Interesting opening questions posed to the panel included, “If you were investing a bunch of money in the sports tech space, where would you put it? Where will the most money be made?”

As Chief Innovation Officer, George led the University’s esports and gaming initiatives, and soon the University of St. Thomas was a city pioneer in esports at the college level. UST entered the esports arena in 2019 and offers college credit in gaming (minors), has successful competitive esports teams, and has invested in building a state-of-the-art esports center on campus. George and other UST faculty and staff recently participated in the Houston Tech Rodeo event on the subject of gaming and esports.

Armed with that knowledge, George offered her insights on developing gaming and esports initiatives at the University of St. Thomas. She shared how UST has taken a holistic approach in this area.

 “Sports or gaming is fundamentally a human activity. This fact remains true when technology brings the game to your hands. UST recognizes the value of understanding that technology from the perspective of human engagement and interaction. Hence, we have invested in building competitive esports teams, creative academic programs in gaming, and building a gaming community on campus.”

The free evening event, held on Monday, March 24, at the Alliant Group Conference Center in the Galleria, was sponsored by Alliant Group in partnership with InnovationMap. 

Lastly, University of St. Thomas and Unity Technologies are sponsoring a EDU JAM on the weekend of April 22-24. Students, faculty and staff from all colleges and universities in Houston are invited to participate in this Unity Bootcamp. This cool, first-time-ever-in-Houston event featuring Unity’s cross-platform game engine by the same name is 100% online. Entrants may choose from two tracks – creative for the artsy people or programming for the more technical folks.  Register for the event here.