Vicis is bringing its high-tech helmet technology from the playing field to the battlefield.
The Seattle startup today announced a contract with the U.S. Army to improve the safety of Army and Marine Corps combat helmets.
Vicis spun out of the University of Washington in 2014 and has developed a football helmet used by players across the NFL, NCAA, and high school levels.
But now the 85-person company is exploring new business verticals. Vicis will work with U.S. Army researchers to figure out ways to replace existing foam liner pads in combat helmets with liner technology already used in its football helmets.
The idea is to come up with a helmet that not only shields service members from gunfire and shrapnel, but also blunt impact both on the battlefield and in training settings.
“The military work aligns with our mission and allows us to protect those who protect us,” said Vicis CEO Dave Marver. “It’s still early, the technology remains in development, but it’s very promising and we’re hopeful it will make a big difference in the lives of our servicemen and women.”
Vicis is still committed to its original mission of protecting youth athletes. Marver said it’s difficult to pinpoint how much of the company’s business will come from military-related projects.
Vicis has created a new Military Coalition to help advise the startup with its new endeavor:
- Gen. Peter Chiarelli USA (Ret.), the U.S. Army’s 32nd Vice Chief of Staff who led Department of Defense efforts to address post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury.
- Vice Admiral Kevin Cosgriff USN (Ret.), former commander of the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command.
- Gen. Charles Wald USAF (Ret.), former Deputy Commander, U.S. European Command.
This year, Vicis has already received orders from all 32 NFL teams, more than 90 NCAA programs, and more than 500 high schools. Its ZERO1 helmet was one of Time Magazine’s 25 Best Inventions of 2017 and placed first in the NFL’s recent helmet safety test.
Vicis has raised more than $50 million to date from investors like Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson; prominent spine and neurological surgeons; Cincinnati Reds minority owner Harry Fath; angelMD; W Fund; Alliance of Angels; and Trilogy Equity Partners. It just kicked off fundraising efforts for another funding round, Marver said. The company was a finalist for the Hardware of the Year category at this month’s GeekWire Awards event.