NEW YORK — The NFL has awarded $426,000 spread over three firms for work in the protective equipment and related technologies field.

As part of the HeadHealthTECH Challenge designed to advance improvements in those areas, the league is awarding Baytech Products of Asheville, North Carolina, a $178,000 grant to build and test its prototype HitGard, a multi-component helmet system.

Receiving $148,000 will be Windpact of Leesburg, Virginia to support prototyping and testing of its Crash Cloud, an impact liner system using restricted air flow and foam in helmets and protective gear.

Getting $100,000 will be 2ND Skull of Pittsburgh to further evaluate the effectiveness of its skull cap in reducing impact forces, and developing a second-generation version.

Launched in November 2016, the TECH Challenge series is operated and managed on behalf of Football Research Inc., by Duke University’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute.

“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.”

For THIS TECH Challenge, a panel of expert judges selected by Duke CTSI, in collaboration with Football Research Inc., reviewed and provided feedback on 85 proposals all focused on improved protective equipment. Every TECH Challenge applicant is invited to reapply.

“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, director of Innovation Duke CTSI and professor of biomedical engineering at Duke University, as well as a consultant to the NFL Players Association. “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.”


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