New Start-Up VICIS Aims to Bring Technology to the Football Helmet Industry
By Liz Petoniak
A new start-up called VICIS, which means “change” in Latin, is gunning to bring transformative technology to the football helmet making industry, which the company laments has changed very little in the past 50 years. Beloved former University of Pittsburgh football player, Bill Osborn (many may remember him as the only player to letter in three varsity sports at the university since Mike Ditka), who went on to play in the NFL, AFL, and WLAF, has become passionately involved in the project as an investor and advisor. He says, “The goal is to make it the best looking, the best fitting or feeling, the highest performing, as well as the safest helmet using new technology. What we hope will be different about this helmet versus helmets players are wearing today is how it will potentially address the forces likely to cause concussions and head injury.” In conjunction with the University of Washington and a team of neurosurgeons, mechanical engineers, public health experts, and innovative business experts lead by CEO Dave Marver, they hope to have a prototype ready soon. VICIS took a huge step forward in their mission to achieve this by recently receiving a $500,000 grant (with potential to win an additional $1 million) from the National Football League in conjunction with GE and Under Armour, as a part of the Head Health Challenge II Initiative. To date, the company has raised more then $2 million in capital for this project. “With all of my experiences surrounding concussions and football, along with my long friendship with CEO Dave Marver, we thought this was a perfect opportunity for us to work together,” explains Osborn, “I truly want to do something that will be impactful and really make a difference in the lives of people who are involved in athletics, and in the lives of my children. I have two boys who all play football. Fifty percent of parents [in the U.S.] don’t want their children playing football [according to a recent poll conducted by Bloomberg Politics], so this impacts people’s everyday decisions. And, that’s why there’s so much passion behind it to really try to make a difference.” In the long term, VICIS hopes to be able to create safer helmets for other sports outside of football as well.