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NFL Launches HealthTECH Challenge I to Revolutionize Playing Surfaces


NFL to launch a challenge to revolutionize playing surfaces. Photo: @adamschefter
NFL to launch a challenge to revolutionize playing surfaces. Photo: @adamschefter

In a groundbreaking initiative, the NFL has unveiled the launch of the HealthTECH Challenge I, a crowd-sourced competition aimed at fostering innovations that enhance the consistency and safety of playing surfaces for athletes. This collaborative effort, conducted in partnership with Football Research, Inc. (FRI) and Duke Biomedical Engineering (Duke BME), invites submissions addressing various elements of natural and synthetic playing surface safety.


Key Focus Areas: The challenge aims to tackle critical aspects related to playing surface safety, including new or improved field maintenance techniques, equipment reducing variability across surfaces and over time, methodologies to prolong the viability of natural grass in NFL stadiums, topical treatments for synthetic surfaces enhancing player traction, equipment safeguarding playing surfaces during non-sporting events, and innovative field usage monitoring technologies.


Funding and Collaboration Opportunities: Entrants with ideas that promise advancements in playing surface safety stand a chance to secure funding of up to $100,000. Selected projects will not only receive financial support but will also have the opportunity to collaborate with an expert support team to refine their concepts and develop a finished product.


Inclusivity in Innovation: Beyond welcoming submissions from companies specializing in playing surfaces, the challenge is open to entries from diverse sectors, including academic institutions, design houses, and entities specializing in engineering, advanced manufacturing, and material science. This inclusive approach seeks to harness a wide range of expertise and perspectives to drive innovation in the realm of playing surfaces.


Challenge Timeline:

  • Nov. 16, 2023, to Feb. 20, 2024: Submission window open. Applications can be submitted here (official rules available here).

  • March-April 2024: Review by Duke BME and an expert panel jointly established by Duke BME and FRI.

  • April 2024: Deadline for finalist selection and oral presentations on the submissions.

  • May 2024: Final selection.

  • May 2024-May 2025: Funding period.

Looking to the Future: Jennifer Langton, Senior Vice President of Health and Safety Innovation at the NFL, expressed the organization's goal of generating fresh and creative ideas to enhance playing surfaces' consistency and safety. She highlighted the unique opportunity presented by crowd-sourced challenges to tap into a broad spectrum of expertise, making the game safer for players on the field.


Nick Pappas, the NFL's Field Director, emphasized the complexity of playing surfaces in the NFL and anticipated that this unique challenge would breed innovation, bringing new perspectives and solutions to improve playing surfaces across the league and sports as a whole.


The HealthTECH Challenge I stands as a testament to the NFL's commitment to pushing the boundaries of safety and innovation, ushering in a new era for playing surfaces in professional sports.












This is Dez Barnes of Pretty Girls Love Sports, a new writer on the MTMV Sports platform. I am a retired US Army veteran, professional cheerleader, dog mom, and avid sports lover. Feel free to follow my writings as I dive into the latest sports news! You can find me on all social media channels @PGLOVESPORTS.


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