The National Football League (NFL) and Football Research, Inc. (FRI) today announced the winners of HeadHealthTECH Challenge I and launched HeadHealthTECH Challenge II, which “invites proposals for improvements in football protective equipment including helmets and related technologies, turf systems, shoulder and other pads, and additional innovative concepts.”
The HeadHealthTECH Challenge series is one component of the Play Smart. Play Safe. Engineering Roadmap—a $60-million comprehensive plan funded by the NFL and managed by FRI “to create incentives for sporting goods companies, as well as other manufacturers, small businesses, entrepreneurs, and universities from around the world to develop improved helmets and protective equipment in the next three to five years.” Launched in November 2016, the TECH Challenge series is operated and managed on behalf of FRI by Duke University’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute (Duke CTSI).
“Our collective goal is to spur next-generation solutions in protective equipment,” said Jeff Miller, NFL Executive Vice President of Health and Safety Initiatives. “Not only do these grants advance promising technologies, but FRI’s expert partners at Duke CTSI provide valuable feedback and mentorship to all companies that submit proposals. We want to encourage and support new and innovative ideas that will improve sports safety.”
“The TECH Challenge series is designed to bridge the gap between the engineering and medical experts and the marketplace, and to direct funding where we can create value,” said BARRY MYERS, MD, PhD, MBA, Director of Innovation Duke CTSI, Coulter Program Director and Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Duke University and a consultant to the NFLPA. “If you’re an innovator, we want you to apply. We want to hear what your product is, what your vision is and how we can help you succeed.”
FRI awards “the most promising TECH Challenge proposals with a cumulative value of up to $1 million a year, including in-kind support. For TECH Challenge I, a panel of expert judges selected by Duke CTSI, in collaboration with FRI, reviewed and provided feedback on 50 proposals all focused on improved protective equipment. Every TECH Challenge applicant receives constructive feedback to help refine innovations and increase chances for success on future submissions and is invited to reapply.”
TECH Challenge I Winners:
- VyaTek Sports received a grant of $190,000 to support development and testing of its Zorbz technology, a series of highly efficient energy-absorbing modules added to a helmet system that can be removed and replaced after a significant impact.
- Guardian Innovations received a grant of $20,000 to support biomechanical testing of its Guardian Cap technology. The Guardian Cap is a decoupled, soft helmet cover designed to augment football helmets and reduce the severity of impacts.
Information about TECH Challenges and the process for making a submission can be found at: www.PlaySmartPlaySafe.com/HeadHealthTECH