The NFL kicked off its helmet challenge with a symposium in Youngstown Thursday.
The NFL Helmet Challenge is offering $3 million in grants and award money to the developer of a new, safer helmet that outperforms current helmets.
About 300 people from around the world, from helmet makers to innovators and experts, have gathered for a series of panels and presentations Thursday and Friday focused on helmet design and innovation, along with concussion prevention.
Emily Kennedy, co-founder and CEO of Cleveland-based Hedgemon, is among the innovators at the symposium vying for the top prize.
“There'll never be another opportunity to be in the same room as all these different sorts of people,” Kennedy said.
Hedgemon has developed a helmet liner inspired by hedgehog quills and Kennedy said the company is hoping to team up with a helmet manufacturer through the challenge to develop a full helmet prototype.
“We're hoping, over the course of these couple of days, we'll develop collaborations with people who can help us with development of the full system,” Kennedy said.
Helmet manufacturers Riddell, Xenith and Vicis were at the symposium.
Challenge participants must submit helmet prototypes for lab testing against impacts by May 2021.