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NFL creates $3m challenge to develop safer helmet

The National Football League is offering $3m as part of an initiative to create a helmet which can outperform the equipment currently in use.

As part of the NFL Helmet Challenge, experts, innovators and helmet manufacturers have been offered $2m in grant funding to support the development of a helmet prototype and a $1m prize.

A symposium will be held on November 13-15 in Youngstown, Ohio, to kick off the challenge, and applicants will have until May 2021 to submit their helmets for final evaluation.

Applicants will have access to a range of resources to support the development of their helmet prototype, including up to $2m in grant funding, as well as NFL video review data and models of modern football helmets.

The challenge is part of the NFL’s Engineering Roadmap, an initiative aimed to better understand the biomechanics of head injuries.

“Helmet technology is advancing at an impressive rate. Yet, we believe that even more is possible. The NFL Helmet Challenge represents an unprecedented combination of financing, research, data and engineering expertise in an effort to create a more protective helmet,” said Jeff Miller, the NFL’s executive vice president for health and safety innovation.

“Innovation can be catalyzed if we engage with creative and talented people from across disciplines to attack this challenge together. In collaboration with the NFL Players Association, we are making changes on and off the field in an effort to improve protection for every player. Trying to ensure that players wear the best possible helmet is a substantial part of that commitment.”

The NFL recently announced a four-year partnership with leading eyewear and sport lifestyle brand Oakley to allow players to wear tinted helmet visors.

The initiative also arrives as ailments ranging from dementia and depression to Alzheimer’s and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) have been tied to concussions and repeated head trauma incurred during football activity.