More Vicis helmets are out in the wild as the Seattle startup prepares to equip NFL and NCAA teams with its high-tech product this fall.
Vicis will provide its helmet to 15-to-20 players who are participating in The Spring League, a new developmental football league that will host a 6-game season this month to help players looking to make NFL, CFL, and Arena Football League teams. Former NFL players like Greg Hardy, Kellen Winslow Jr., Ahmad Bradshaw, and others will be participating in the league, which is not directly associated with the NFL.
“Having NFL-caliber athletes hitting hard with the helmet over the course of a month during practices and games gives us another opportunity to see if there is anything else we need to refine before the start of the fall season,” Vicis CEO Dave Marver told GeekWire.
Vicis’ $1,500 ZERO1 helmet features a unique outer shell material designed to mitigate the forces thought to cause concussions. Founded in 2013, the company has raised $28 million to date from former NFL players and top biotech veterans, among others.
This past fall, the University of Washington and University of Oregon football teams were the first to wear the ZERO1 helmets, but Vicis pulled the helmets after player complaints about forehead pressure and a “higher than expected frequency of upper chinstrap disengagement.”
Vicis has since addressed those issues; it made several small tweaks and fundamentally redesigned the front of the helmet. It will now be used on the field next season by NFL and NCAA teams, Marver confirmed this week. There are around 20 NCAA programs and 25 NFL teams that will be using the helmet during spring practices and offseason activities over the next few months, Marver added.
— ken crain (@kencrain) March 22, 2017
Vicis is now up to 50 employees and continues to raise more investment. It just opened up a production facility in Seattle. The company has also received certification from The Safety Equipment Institute, which said that Vicis’ helmet meets the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) performance standard for football helmets.
Marver said Vicis is focused on NFL and NCAA teams, but also plans to provide youth leagues with its helmet within the next two years. It also has other active projects for areas outside of football.
Vicis spun out of the University of Washington in 2014. Marver founded the company with CTO Per Reinhall, chairman of the UW Mechanical Engineering Department, Chief Medical Officer Samuel Browd, and UW Associate Engineering Professor Jonathan Posner.
Investors in the startup range from people like Roger Staubach, the 1963 Heisman Trophy winner and former Dallas Cowboys quarterback who led his team to two Super Bowl wins; to folks like Robert Nelsen, a biotech industry veteran and co-founder of Arch Venture Partners; and Bruce Montgomery, a veteran of the Seattle biotech scene. Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin is also an investor.