The HeadHealthTECH challenge: A collaboration between the NFL, Football Research, Inc. and Duke CTSI

July 26, 2017

*Please note: Duke-affiliated researchers are not eligible for this opportunity. Please share with your non-Duke colleagues and peers.

Every week during the season, millions of football fans across the country tune in to watch their favorite players make game-changing plays. We watch because we care about these athletes who can thrill us at any given moment. On and off the field, we want to see them perform their best.

That’s why it’s so important we do everything we can to better protect players—during practice and on game day. As we continue to spur next-generation designs and solutions in protective equipment, we’re looking to the science and tech community for the best ideas.

That’s why the NFL, FRI and Duke CTSI launched HeadHealthTECH Challenges.

The National Football League (NFL) and Football Research, Inc. (FRI) have partnered with Duke University’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute (Duke CTSI) to create the HeadHealthTECH Challenges—a series of innovation challenges intended to deepen understanding and advance solutions in the areas of head protection, materials science, and head kinematics, among others. The TECH Challenges are structured to stimulate research and innovation, and to create an intellectual forum to connect innovators with engineering experts, mentors and venture capitalists.

Help improve player health and safety.

The NFL, FRI and Duke CTSI need your help to develop next-generation solutions and ground-breaking technology designed to improve player health and safety.

What’s in it for you?

This is an opportunity to showcase your thinking, solutions and novel approaches to improving protective equipment—and to join a community of experts and innovators passionate about safety in sports. Winners will be eligible to receive funding from a total award pool of up to $1 million USD per year to further advance their proposed technology. Every TECH Challenge applicant also receives constructive feedback and mentoring from Duke CTSI biomechanical and biomedical engineering experts to help refine innovations and increase their chances for success on future submissions.

Think you’ve got a winning idea?  We’d love to hear more!

We invite you to help pave the way to enhanced head protection by proposing designs and innovations in equipment and technology to improve protective equipment.

Submit your concepts in TECH Challenge III. The following are especially encouraged:

  • Improvements in helmet and/or the surfaces that helmets contact (e.g., turf, grass, other helmets, opponent padding, including shoulders, etc.);
  • Ready-to-deploy material advances;
  • Studies that define the range of exposures (e.g., location, speed of impact, frequency of impact) that can be used to improve test protocols for helmet development; and,
  • Studies that elucidate the optimal stress strain properties of helmet materials.


For more information, please visit:

See Official Rules for details. TECH Challenge III open July 25, 2017.  Applications must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on September 29, 2017. Proposals will be accepted from both public and private organizations.  All proposals must be able to articulate a path by which they will successfully impact football player health and safety.