Public Release: 

University of Washington announced as a final winner of Head Health Challenge II

The NFL, Under Armour and GE grant additional $250,000 to support development of UW's football helmet

University of Washington

SEATTLE, December 4, 2015 - Today, the University of Washington (UW) was named a final winner in the Head Health Challenge II, a collaboration among the NFL, Under Armour, and GE to identify and fund innovations that improve head health for athletes, members of the military and society at-large. Last year, the corporate partners awarded UW a $500,000 grant in Round One of Challenge II. This year's additional $250,000 grant will help UW complete development of its breakthrough football helmet.

Head Health Challenge II is one of three open innovation challenges in the larger Head Health Initiative between GE and the NFL. For these challenges, the partners, together with Under Armour, will invest up to $20 million in research and technology development to better understand, diagnose and protect against brain injury. UW was selected as a final winner, alongside two other Round One winners, because it showed continued technological advancements and potential for near-term commercialization.

Part of UW's success is due to the shared commitment of its commercial partner, VICIS, and initial seed funding from UW's Center for Commercialization, among others. UW and VICIS have made strong progress in the development of the new ZERO1 football helmet, which is designed to better mitigate the forces likely to cause concussion. Details of the helmet's technology and design are being kept under wraps until the ZERO1 is publicly unveiled in early January.

"We have completely reimagined the football helmet, leveraging the latest thinking in engineering, medicine and sport," said Dr. Per Reinhall, VICIS CTO and Chair of the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Washington. "The grants awarded by the Head Health Challenge sponsors have greatly accelerated development of the ZERO1."

VICIS investors include the W Fund, Alliance of Angels, current and former NFL players, and several prominent spine and neurological surgeons. VICIS founders are Per Reinhall, PhD, Professor and Chair of Mechanical Engineering at UW; Samuel Browd, MD, PhD, Pediatric Neurosurgeon and Medical Director of the Sports Concussion Program at Seattle Children's Hospital; and Dave Marver, CEO and veteran of the medical technology industry.



Launched in 2013, the Head Health Initiative is a four-year, $60 million collaboration between GE and the NFL. The Head Health Challenge II is one of three open innovation challenges to invest up to $20 million in research and technology development to better understand, identify and protect against brain injury. In addition, the Initiative includes a four-year, $40 million research and development program from the NFL and GE to evaluate and develop next-generation imaging technologies to improve diagnosis that would allow for targeting treatment therapy for patients with mild traumatic brain injury. For more information, please visit


Recently ranked by Reuters as the #1 most innovative public university in the world, UW is a leading recipient of federal funding for research, producing innovations that have the power to change the world--from biofuel alternatives, to more effective treatments for Alzheimer's disease and brain cancer, to purification technology for drinking water in the developing world. CoMotion at the UW is dedicated to helping innovators achieve the greatest impact from their discoveries.


VICIS was created in 2013 to develop an improved football helmet. The company leverages technology initially developed at University of Washington. Inquiries can be directed to For more information, visit

Media contacts:
Conrado Tapado, UW CoMotion

Ray Vincenzo, VICIS

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