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Winthrop-based company named winner in nationwide “Head Health Challenge”

Alba-Technic, LLC of Winthrop is one of five companies to win the nationwide Head Health Challenge III. The challenge is an open innovation competition sponsored by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the National Football League, Under Armour, and General Electric (GE) to support the discovery, design and development of advanced materials that better absorb and dissipate impact.

Alba-Technic has developed a patented, shock-absorbent honeycomb material with an outer layer that diverts the energy from a fall or hit. The material is normally soft and compliant, but upon impact, the outer layer changes into a hard shell to spread the energy and protect the user from injury.

As one of the competition winners, the company will receive $250,000 to advance their work in developing its state-of-the-art material. A panel of leading experts in the field of materials science selected the five winners from 125 entries because they met the challenge’s technical criteria to maximize energy absorption and minimize momentum transfer. One overall Head Health Challenge III winner will be selected from the five awardees to receive an additional $500,000 grand prize by the end of 2016.

“Alba-Technic has been doing innovative and exciting things in Winthrop to advance head health and safety, and we’re thrilled that this Maine company is being recognized so prominently at the national level,” said Senators Susan Collins and Angus King in a joint statement. “As we learn more and more about brain injuries and brain trauma, the need for new protective technologies becomes that much clearer, and Alba Technic has an important role to play. We commend the Challenge sponsors for organizing this competition and look forward to following Alba Technic as it continues to compete for additional prize money and, more importantly, develop this potentially life-saving material.”

Head Health Challenge III is part of the larger Head Health Initiative, a four-year, $60 million collaboration between GE and the NFL that aims to invest resources to accelerate the development of materials that can protect against concussions. It is one of three open innovation challenges to invest up to $20 million in research and technology development to better understand, identify and protect against brain injury.

Challenge I focused on discovering imaging and methods for diagnosis and prognosis of mild traumatic brain injuries, and in July 2015, six grand prize winners were awarded $500,000 to further their revolutionary research. Challenge II focused on new technologies to monitor, identify and protect against mild traumatic brain injury, and in December 2015, three grand prize winners were announced. The winners could receive up to $1 million over the next year to continue to advance their innovations.

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