Vicis has more cash to help the company finish developing its high-tech football helmet.
The company, which spun out of the University of Washington last year, will benefit from a new $250,000 grant from the Head Health Challenge II, a $40 million initiative organized by the NFL, Under Armour, and GE that gives research teams funding to develop new ways to prevent, measure, and detect brain injury.
Vicis has spent the last two years doing extensive research and development, working with NFL and collegiate players to help build a product that provides more protection than the traditional helmet. Its high-tech helmet, which utilizes a multi-layered system with unique outer shell material, is designed to mitigate the forces that are thought to cause concussions on the football field and in other contact sports.
“We’ve redesigned the helmet from scratch to provide protection against not just skull fracture, but from traumatic brain injury or concussion,” Vicis CEO Dave Marver said on stage at the GeekWire Summit in October while demoing the product.
Last year, Vicis won a $500,000 grant from the initial round of Head Health Challenge II. The company said it received the extra $250,000 after demonstrating progress and potential for near-term commercialization. Two other organizations — Viconic Sporting and Army Research Laboratory — also won follow-up grant funding.
Vicis will use the extra $250,000 to complete development of its helmet, which is set for commercial launch next year. The company 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. In total, it has raised more than $5 million to date and has investors like the Alliance of Angels, current and former NFL players, and several prominent spine and neurological surgeons.
Vicis also just hired Tony Titus as its VP of Marketing. Titus, a veteran of Precor, Cardiac Science, and Medtronic, joins an executive team that includes Marver, Chief Medical Officer Samuel Browd, and Chief Technology Officer Per Reinhall.
The Head Health Initiative has three separate innovation “Challenges,” each related to helping prevent brain injury. While Vicis’ group is focused on protection and measuring head impacts, the two other groups are researching ways to diagnose mild traumatic brain injuries, and developing “advanced materials for impact mitigation.”
Watch Vicis present at the GeekWire Summit 2015 below (starts at 6:50 mark):
Editor’s note: The headline and story were updated to reflect that the UW was awarded with the grant.