NFL Announces Winners of Second Head Health Tech Challenge

The National Football League (NFL) and Football Research, Inc. (FRI) today announced the winners of HeadHealthTECH Challenge II, which invited proposals for improvements in football protective equipment including helmets and related technologies, turf systems, shoulder and other pads, and additional innovative concepts.

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).

“The TECH Challenge series is designed to identify promising innovations that improve sports safety,” said Jeff Miller, NFL Executive Vice President of Health and Safety Initiatives. “This effort not only provides finalists with needed funding to advance these technologies, but all of those who submit proposals also receive invaluable mentorship and feedback from our partners at Duke CTSI.”

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 II, a panel of expert judges selected by Duke CTSI, in collaboration with FRI, reviewed and provided feedback on 85 proposals all focused on improved protective equipment. Every TECH Challenge applicant is invited to reapply and receives constructive feedback from Duke CTSI biomechanical experts to help refine innovations and increase chances for success on future submissions.

TECH Challenge II Winners:

  • 2ND Skull—Pittsburgh, PA— received a grant of $100,000 to further evaluate the effectiveness of the 2nd Skull® skull cap in reducing impact forces and developing a second-generation version.
  • Baytech Products—Asheville, NC— received a grant of $178,000 to build and test its prototype HitGard® multi-component helmet system concept.
  • Windpact—Leesburg, VA— received a grant of $148,000 to support prototyping and testing of its Crash Cloud™, an impact liner system using restricted air flow and foam in helmets and protective gear.

“We want to help these and all innovators who participate in the TECH Challenges to succeed—stimulating the marketplace and raising the bar for sports safety,” 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 NFL Players Association (NFLPA). “We’re excited about the technologies that surfaced in TECH Challenges I and II, and look forward to discovering and advancing even more innovations with TECH Challenge III.”

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 two to four years.

TECH Challenge III is open for submissions through September 29, 2017. Information about TECH Challenges and the process for making a submission can be found at:www.PlaySmartPlaySafe.com/HeadHealthTECH. TECH Challenge III winners are expected to be announced in early 2018.

Winners of TECH Challenge I, announced in April 2017, include VyaTek Sports for its highly efficient energy-absorbing Zorbz technology and Guardian Innovations for its Guardian Cap technology—a soft helmet cover designed to reduce the severity of impacts.

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