The National Football League (NFL) and Football Research, Inc. (FRI) have partnered with Duke University’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute (Duke CTSI) to create the HeadHealthTECH Challenges, a series of innovation and crowdsourcing initiatives intended to deepen understanding of and advance solutions in the areas of injury prevention, head protection, materials science, head kinematics, among others. The TECH Challenges are structured to stimulate research and innovation, as well as encourage connections with mentors and/or venture capitalists, with a goal of spurring translational developments in engineering, biomechanics, advanced sensors and material science.
As part of its Play Smart. Play Safe. initiative announced in September 2016, the NFL pledged $60 million toward the creation and funding of a five-year plan called the Engineering Roadmap that will be managed by FRI, a nonprofit corporation formed and financially supported by the NFL. The Engineering Roadmap is a dedicated and comprehensive plan to create incentives for sporting goods companies, manufacturers, small businesses, entrepreneurs, universities and others from around the world to develop new and improved helmets and protective equipment over the next three to five years.
Up to three HeadHealthTECH Challenges (each, a TECH Challenge) will be offered annually, dedicating funds to those with the most promising ideas. A panel of expert judges selected by Duke CTSI, in collaboration with FRI, will evaluate all proposals. Funding will be awarded by FRI. Duke CTSI will work closely with funding recipients to develop and mature their ideas. All individuals or institutions submitting proposals will retain ownership over their ideas at all times.
TECH Challenge III, which is open from July 25, 2017 through September 29, 2017, invites proposals focused on helmet technologies and all surfaces that helmets may contact, including turf, grass, other helmets, opponent shoulder pads and other padding. Support for the most promising opportunities will be provided by FRI. The TECH Challenges are renewable annually for up to the next four years.
Duke University’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute (Duke CTSI) and Football Research, Inc. invite proposals for protective equipment and technology that can lead to significant gains in head protection. Specific focus areas for HeadHealthTECH Challenge III include:
- Helmet technologies
- Surfaces that helmets may contact, including turf, grass, other helmets, opponent shoulder pads and other padding, etc.
Awards:- The HeadHealthTECH Challenges are an annually renewable grant program that will offer up to three challenges a year for up to the next four years. For each year that the program is renewed, an aggregate amount of up to $1 million in direct funding awards will be provided by FRI (or such higher amount as agreed to in FRI’s sole discretion). In addition to, or, in some cases, in lieu of, providing direct funding awards, interesting projects may receive in-kind support including expert biomechanical engineering consultation, completion of experimental studies, benchmarking against existing technology, creation of novel data to demonstrate utility, and access to on-field resources. All funding awards are a one-time offer and there is no offer of licensure, royalty or other financial compensation implied beyond the initial amount funded. Funded projects can and will be encouraged to apply for additional challenges if more than more year of funding is required.