$1.37 Million Awarded in HeadHealthTECH Grant Funding to NFL Helmet Challenge Applicants

Funding will support innovators competing to create a new, top-performing football helmet

Style Magazine Newswire | 7/1/2020, 5:16 p.m.

The National Football League (NFL) and Football Research, Inc. (FRI) today awarded $1.37 million in HeadHealthTECH grant funding to four teams of innovators to support the creation of their helmet prototypes to be submitted as part of the ongoing NFL Helmet Challenge, a contest with an additional prize of $1 million.

The NFL Helmet Challenge is an innovation challenge that aims to stimulate the development by experts, innovators and helmet manufacturers of a new helmet for NFL players that outperforms, based on specified laboratory testing, all helmets currently worn by NFL players. The $1.37 million in grant funding awarded today is an extension of the NFL's HeadHealthTECH Challenge funding series and was designed to facilitate broad participation in the NFL Helmet Challenge. Applicants will use HeadHealthTECH Challenge funds to bolster their entry into the NFL Helmet Challenge competition. HeadHealthTECH funding is not required to participate in the NFL Helmet Challenge and other applicants are invited and encouraged to participate.

The Helmet Challenge will culminate in July 2021 with applicants submitting helmet prototypes for laboratory testing used by the NFL-NFLPA engineers to rank helmets over the last six years.

Awardees of HeadHealthTECH Helmet Challenge grant funding are as follows. Their submission descriptions appear in italics below as described by the winners in their grant applications.

Christopher Yakacki | Impressio, Inc. and CU Denver

Denver, Colorado - $491,999

Impressio, Inc. and CU Denver, relying on materials science research and additive manufacturing, are looking to create unprecedented energy-dissipating helmet liners using ultra-dissipative liquid crystalline elastomers (LCEs) and lattice designs to 3D-print player-specific helmet liners to reduce concussions. This project is supported by partners including EOS, nTopology, and Schutt.

Xenith, RHEON, BASF, The University of Waterloo | Xenith Project Orbit

Detroit, Michigan - $412,000

Xenith, an industry leader in football equipment, is looking to bring together experts in injury biomechanics, additive manufacturing, material science, design and computational modeling and optimization – BASF, RHEON Labs and The University of Waterloo – to create a new solution for energy management and a best-in-class on-field experience for the athlete.

Eric Wagnac (ETS) and Franck LeNaveaux | Kollide

Montreal, Québec - $238,545

The Kollide consortium combines the expertise of academic researchers (ETS) and four innovative Montreal-based companies (Kupol, Tactix, ShapeShift3D, Numalogics) who are looking to use their virtual design and non-planar 3D printing approach to create helmets customized to the player's head with a custom liner optimized to absorb and redirect impact.

Matthew Panzer | UVA, Nama Development and Topologica, Inc.

Charlottesville, Virginia - $223,047

Dr. Panzer and collaborators are looking to use their innovative cubic + octet foam metamaterial to design a new energy absorbing layer in a football helmet that will minimize risk of concussion.

"By bringing together experts from multiple disciplines, the NFL Helmet Challenge aims to encourage revolutionary advances in helmet design," said Jeff Miller, NFL Executive Vice President of Communications, Public Affairs and Policy, who oversees the NFL's health and safety work. "The awardees demonstrated the potential to do just that. We're very excited to support their efforts and test their prototypes next year. This is one more sign of the recent transformation in the protective equipment space – more in the last couple of years than over the previous decade – and we are committed to keeping this momentum going."