DSG Ventures has launched with five investments and marks the rare instance of a sports retailer launching a strategic fund.

Photo courtesy of Dick’s Sporting Goods

US sports equipment retailer Dick’s Sporting Goods has become one of the few sports retailers to enter the corporate venture capital world, forming a $50m investment arm called DSG Ventures to back early-stage sports technology startups.

In addition to its funding activities, DSG Ventures is partnering innovation consultancy VentureFuel on a pilot scheme where early-stage companies will work with the unit on technologies such as artificial intelligence or e-commerce that can make the customer experience better.

The worldwide sporting industry was valued at $355bn as of 2021 according to Research and Markets. Although retailers have dipped a toe into the corporate venture space, none have been frequent investors.

Adidas launched Hydra Ventures in 2011 but its last deal was three years ago. Foot Locker invested in several companies in 2018 and 2019…

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Robert Lavine

Robert Lavine is special features editor for Global Venturing.