Funding awarded to Cardiff University to help bring their innovative protective equipment technology to market
New York, NY – November 30, 2018 – The National Football League (NFL) and Football Research, Inc. (FRI) today announced the winner of HeadHealthTECH Challenge V, the latest in the TECH Challenge series, which is operated on behalf of FRI by Duke University's Clinical and Translational Science Institute (Duke CTSI). The TECH Challenge series is designed to stimulate research and innovation in protective equipment including helmets and related technologies, turf systems, shoulder and other pads, and additional innovative concepts.
As the winner of TECH Challenge V, Cardiff University (Cardiff, Wales) has been awarded $116,155 to advance their unique padding material for use as a helmet liner pad. Cardiff University has a thriving innovation culture with state-of-the-art facilities to help researchers and students work with partners to build enterprises that create products, spin-outs, start-ups and social enterprises. Their unique padding material is designed using complex computer simulations to achieve optimal performance, and their advanced 3D printing materials and technologies enable them to manufacturer helmet liner pads that achieve more effective cushioning during collisions.
"The TECH Challenge series continues to champion creative, innovative ideas, like those of Cardiff's, to advance athlete safety," said JEFF MILLER, the NFL's Executive Vice President of Health and Safety Initiatives. "The crowdsourcing model advances the commercialization of new and exciting equipment designs."
"Our team at Duke CTSI is excited to work with Cardiff to help them refine their design for football and ensure they have the resources to get their innovative technology to market," said BARRY MYERS, MD, PhD, MBA, Director of Innovation at Duke CTSI, Counter Program Director and Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Duke University, as well as a consultant to the NFL Players Association. "We look forward to continuing to work with FRI and the NFL to connect the next wave of innovators with capital and mentorship to advance their equipment designs."
About the Engineering Roadmap and HeadHealthTECH Challenges
The HeadHealthTECH Challenge series is one component of the Play Smart. Play Safe. Engineering Roadmap, a $60-million comprehensive effort – funded by the NFL and managed by FRI – to improve the understanding of the biomechanics of head injuries in professional football and to create incentives for helmet manufacturers, small businesses, entrepreneurs, universities and others to develop and commercialize new and improved protective equipment, including helmets.
FRI awards the most promising TECH Challenge proposals with a cumulative value of up to $1 million a year, including in-kind support. A panel of expert judges selected by Duke CTSI, in collaboration with FRI, reviews and provides feedback to all proposals. 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.
As part of the Engineering Roadmap, FRI continues to share research, data, tools, and information with engineers and entrepreneurs, including those participating in the TECH Challenge series, to help improve their equipment designs. FRI just released a new finite element model of the 2017 VICIS 01 Helmet Model, now available for download. Existing resources include: a toolkit of finite element models of modern football helmets, impact test dummy components, and test conditions simulating on-field impacts, and a comprehensive video review of player impacts to better understand concussion-causing events.
The TECH Challenges have awarded more than $1.4 million in grants to date to help advance the development of 11 new technologies.
- Winners of TECH Challenge I, announced in April 2017, are 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.
- Winners of TECH Challenge II, announced in October 2018,are 2ND Skull, to research the effectiveness of its 2nd Skull® skull cap in reducing impact forces and developing a second-generation version; Baytech Products, for its prototype HitGard® multi-component helmet system concept; and Windpact, for its Crash Cloud™, an impact liner system using restricted air flow and foam in helmets and protective gear.
- Winners of TECH Challenge III, announced in May 2018, are Impressio, Inc. for its ultra-dissipative padding made from liquid-crystal elastomers (LCEs); HRL Laboratories, LLC, to support the development and testing of its novel impact-attenuating pads for football helmets; and AES Research & Design for the testing of its anti-rotational kinematic (ARK) helmet prototype.
- TECH Challenge IV winners, announced in July 2018, are FieldTurf Inc. for its all-new sports surface; Corsair Innovations, Inc. for its FEAM material; and Yobel Technologies, LLC for its faceguard.
About the NFL's Health and Safety Initiatives
The NFL is committed to advancing progress in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of sports-related injuries. As part of the NFL's ongoing health and safety efforts, in September 2016, Commissioner Goodell launched Play Smart. Play Safe. — a league-wide health and safety initiative. At the heart of the initiative is a pledge of $100 million in support for independent medical research and engineering advancements and a commitment to look at anything and everything to protect our players and make our game safer, including enhancements to medical protocols and improvements to how our game is taught and played. For more information about the NFL's health and safety efforts, please visit www.PlaySmartPlaySafe.com.