Vicis continues to raise cash for its high-tech football helmet.
Less than two months after raising $1.6 million, the Seattle-based startup just reeled in another $1.5 million to help fuel development of its innovative helmet designed to mitigate the forces that are thought to cause concussions on the football field and in other contact sports.
The most recent funding came from Seattle-based W-Fund and the Washington Research Foundation, along with a 2014 NFL 1st round draft pick, an NFL coach, a Super Bowl MVP, and several neurosurgeons and spine surgeons. Vicis CEO Dave Marver wouldn’t reveal which former players and coaches were investing, but called them “high-profile.”
The company, which spun out of the University of Washington last year, plans to bring its helmet to market in 2016.
Vicis works out of the UW’s CoMotion incubator and previously raised grant funding from the university — which has an equity stake in the company — and the Coulter Foundation.
Vicis, which employs ten full-time engineers and more than 20 additional full and part-time employees, also brought in $500,000 this past November from the Head Health Challenge program run by the NFL, Under Armour, and GE.
Total funding for Vicis now stands at more than $5 million.
The founding team behind Vicis is impressive. Marver has over two decades of business experience in the medical device space; Chief Medical Officer Samuel Browd is a director for the Seattle Children’s Hospital Sports Concussion Program; Chief Technology Officer Per Reinhall is the chairman of the UW Mechanical Engineering Department; and Chief Science Officer Jonathan Posner is an associate professor at the UW Mechanical Engineering Department and an expert in fluid dynamics.
There are a handful of other startups around the world that are coming up with innovations to help reduce and/or monitor concussions in sports. More recently during the Women’s World Cup, you may have noticed U.S. women’s soccer player Ali Kreiger using a protective headband after suffering a concussion during a game in April. Other Seattle-based companies in this space include X2 Biosystems and i1 Biometrics.
As far as American football is concerned, there is certainly an ongoing concussion crisis impacting the popular game. One out of every three retired NFL players is expected to develop long-term cognitive problems; doctors are criticizing the NCAA for how it protects student-athletes from head trauma; and parents — from LeBron James to Brett Favre — are skeptical of allowing their children to play football due to safety concerns.
It’s a pressing problem for the NFL, which was sued in 2013 by former players who were suffering from brain injuries and blamed the NFL for hiding the dangers of head trauma. More and more players as of late are deciding to retire early over concussion risks.
Editor’s note: You can see Vicis show off its technology at the GeekWire Summit on Oct. 1-2 as part of the “Inventions We Love” program later this year.