Skip to main content

Help Build the Future of Playing Surface Safety Through the HealthTECH Challenge I

The NFL has partnered with Football Research, Inc. (FRI) and Duke Biomedical Engineering (Duke BME) to announce the HealthTECH Challenge, a crowd-sourced challenge to accelerate innovations that can help make playing surfaces more consistent and safer for players.

Thank you for your interest in the HealthTECH Challenge. The application window to submit a proposal is now closed. Please check back for future updates or challenges.


The Challenge invites submissions that address several possible elements of natural and synthetic playing surface safety. These include:

  • New or improved field maintenance techniques.
  • Equipment that reduces variability across the surface and/or over time.
  • Methodologies to prolong the viability of natural grass surfaces in NFL stadiums.
  • Topical treatments for synthetic surfaces that improve traction for players.
  • Equipment to protect playing surfaces during non-sporting events.
  • Field usage monitoring technologies.

The Challenge is open to submissions from companies and new ventures from outside the surface industry, including representatives of academic institutions, design houses and other entities that specialize in engineering, advanced manufacturing, and material science.

HealthTECH Challenge I will provide up to $100,000 to entrants with ideas that further improve the safety and consistency of playing surfaces. The individuals or groups who submit projects that are selected for funding will have the opportunity to work with an expert support team to further develop their concept and plan for creating a finished product.

Submissions will be reviewed by Duke BME and a panel of expert judges established jointly by Duke BME and FRI. Proposals are due on February 20, 2024. For more details on the challenge, please see the Request for Applications and Official Rules.

About HealthTECH Challenges

HealthTECH Challenge I is part of the HealthTECH Challenges (previously known as the HeadHealthTECH Challenges), a series of innovation challenges intended to deepen understanding of and advance solutions in the areas of head protection, lower extremity protection, materials science, and kinematic measurement, among others.

Through project selection and review, and periodic assessment of the program, the Oversight Committee ensures the quality of projects and the sustainability of the Challenge. The HealthTECH Challenge Oversight Committee Members include:

  • Dr. E. Meade Spratley, PhD, Senior Research & Lower Extremity Injury Prevention Lead at Biocore, LLC
  • Dr. Kristy Arbogast, PhD, Director, Center of Injury Research and Prevention, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and Professor of Pediatrics, University of Pennsylvania
  • Dr. Philipe Aldahir, PhD, Senior Research Engineer at Biocore, LLC
  • Dr. Barry Myers, MD, PhD, MBA, Coulter Program Director and Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Duke University and Consultant to the NFL Players Association
  • Nick Pappas, CSFM, Field Director, National Football League
  • Andrew S. McNitt, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus of Soil Science/Turfgrass, Pennsylvania State University

Full Biographies

barry myers

Dr. Barry Myers, MD, PhD, MBA

Coulter Program Director and Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Duke University, Consultant to NFL Players Association

Dr. Myers has been a member of the Duke faculty since 1991 and is currently Mangin Director of Licensing and Ventures. His research examines the biomechanics of head and neck injury with the goal of injury prevention. Dr. Myers founded and directs the Coulter Foundation Translational Partnership Program at Dule that provides $1 MM in early stage funding and management to faculty health care innovations annually with a goal of licensing and creating new life science start-up companies. Dr. Myers is the Director of Emerging Programs in the Duke Translational Research Institute where he is responsible for the consult service that provides funding and project management support to faculty translational research projects in the Duke Medical Center. Within the office of Licensing and Ventures, he manages IT, legal and works with faculty to facilitate transfer of their innovations into the marketplace. He also maintains an active consulting practice including the NFL and NASCAR while serving as an Executive-in-Residence at Pappas Ventures advising several start-up companies. Dr. Myers is considered by many as the preeminent researcher in his field worldwide, having over 100 manuscripts and publications on the subject. Among Dr. Myers many honors are the Stapp Award of Recognition, and the Isbrandt Award for automotive safety from the Society of Automotive Engineers. He is the six-time winner of the Stapp Award for research in impact biomechanics, more than any other individual, and also the Bertil Aldman award for impact biomechanics research. Dr. Myers has worked with all major organizations concerned with safety in the United States including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment. Because of his breadth of experience in injury prevention, Dr. Myers was appointed to the position of Senior Scientific Advisor to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control for two years. He has also consulted with most major automobile manufacturers and automotive racing organizations worldwide. Dr. Myers is a Distinguished Professor at Duke University, having received the Bass Chair in recognition of his accomplishments in research and teaching. He is the faculty advisor to four student best graduate paper competition winners at national meetings. He was responsible for the 2004 revision of the Pratt School of Engineering undergraduate curriculum. He has served as Director of Undergraduate Studies and Director of Graduate Studies for the Department of Biomedical Engineering. He has also served as Senior Associate Dean for Industrial Partnerships and the Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Research Commercialization in the Pratt School of Engineering.

Kristy Arbogast

Dr. Kristy Arbogast, PhD

Director, Center for Injury Research and Prevention, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and Professor of Pediatrics, University of Pennsylvania

Kristy Arbogast, PhD, is the Scientific Director of the Center for Injury Research and Prevention, Co-Director of the Minds Matter Concussion Frontier Program at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the R. Anderson Pew Endowed Chair and Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania. She is an internationally recognized expert on pediatric injury biomechanics, injury causation, and the effectiveness of safety products, focusing on children and youth in motor vehicle crashes as well as pediatric concussions. In 2014, she was awarded an honorary doctorate from Chalmers University of Technology in Goteborg, Sweden, for her leadership in the field. She was a primary scientist on the Partners for Child Passenger Safety project, a 10-year national landmark study on child passenger safety funded by State Farm Insurance, publishing numerous papers that impacted the lives of child occupants by informing new safety products, test protocols, federal motor vehicle safety standards and laws, public education and curricula, policy and medical practice. Dr. Arbogast's concussion research focuses on the use of head impact sensors to understand the biomechanics and bioengineering technology for objective measures of diagnosis and monitoring. She co-leads an initiative for the NFL and NFL Players Association to design and implement head impact sensors to define loading conditions in elite football in order to enhance head protection. Dr. Arbogast continues to collaborate with industry and government in her role as Co-Director of the Center for Child Injury Prevention Studies (CChIPS), an Industry-University Cooperative Research Center focused on the advancement of safety for children, youth, and young adults. She has been named a fellow and received Award of Merit from the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine, has been named a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, and received the Pathfinder award from the Automotive Safety Council. She is funded by the CDC, NIH, and DOD and serves as a consultant for the NFL Players Association on topics of injury mitigation.