AP Photo/Randy Litzinger

Michigan State University venture fund startup develops smart headband to detect head impacts.

By Kendra Andrews
December 08, 2016

Read about the latest sports tech news, innovations, ideas and products that impact players, fans and the sports industry at SportTechie.com.

The Michigan State University Foundation (MSUF) has announced its newest program, Red Cedar Ventures, which features a pre-seed fund and opportunity focused on helping Michigan State University-based startup companies.

“We have been working hard to put together a campus-wide ecosystem for entrepreneurs that embraces all of the creative talents across the university,” MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon said in a statement. “The creation of these programs addresses a critical capital gap for our own startup companies. Through Red Cedar Ventures, we can make sure the groundbreaking ideas created by Spartans reach those who need them the most.”

In the last four years, MSUF has given out over $2 million in pre-seed tuning to more than 20 companies. Red Cedar Ventures plan to continue that pre-seed investment as well as opportunity funds which allocates $5 million to participate in select, follow-on investment rounds that are led by professional venture firms.

“Many of our Michigan State University startups are working on breakthrough ideas and solutions that could greatly benefit the public,” Randolph Cowen, chair of the MSUF Board of Directors said. “However, because early-stage private investment capital is not broadly available in East Lansing, these ideas struggle to get translated into commercial success.”

Cowen continued to say that Red Cedar Ventures will help get young companies’ products into the hands of businesses and consumers.

One successful project in the Red Cedar Ventures portfolio according to Xconomy is the MTBIsense, which was created by MSU chemistry professors Marcos Dantus and Gary Blanchard.

They created a headband equipped with removable Band-Aid-sized strips that can detect and differentiate the different degrees of impacts football players withstand in practices and games. There is one strip on each side and one in the front of the headband, which are all places where high-impact events are likely to occur. The strips are made with sensing material that uses its display to communicate the amount of force.

While the headband cannot identify if a player has a concussion or not, it does help trainers know when a head impact has occurred, how severe it is and the location. This will make identifying when a player needs more examining easier.

Blanchard and Dantus hope to test the sensor-strips further in the coming year. 

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