Houston Chronicle | Texans owner gives boost to Houston company working on athletes' head impacts
The McNair Group, owned by founder and majority owner of the Houston Texans Bob McNair, is investing $25,000 in a local company developing a product that measures the severity of head impacts in women's soccer. This investment is the group's first in a program announced Friday by the Houston Technology Center.
The McNair Group will commit $1 million annually for the next three years to emerging technology companies. Each company, after becoming a client of the Houston Technology Center, will receive $25,000.
Integrated Bionics, the creator of HeadsUp Headband, is the first to receive this funding. It created a sensor placed in a headband to detect body motion. Every time the head is hit, the sensor detects the size of this impact. The sensor flashes after especially hard hits to notify coaches.
"The first application of our technology is the HeadsUp Headband, but we fully anticipate having additional product offerings," said Stéphane Smith, co-founder and CEO of Integrated Bionics and client at Houston Technology Center.
The goal is to use data collected by the sensor, such as miles run, number of hits to the head and magnitude of severe hits, to help reduce the risk of future head impacts. This data can be downloaded and analyzed.
Integrated Bionics hopes the headbands will go to market next year. The $25,000 will help accelerate production.
Smith said receiving funding from a recognizable and respected name like The McNair Group will help with the company's next round of funding. Until now, it has been funded by friends and family.
The McNair Group and Integrated Bionics have an "alignment of interest," Smith said. They both want to improve the health and performance of athletes.
The McNair Group's initiative at Houston Technology Center will be known as the McNair Houston Ignition Fund. It was announced Friday during the Houston Technology Center 2014 Client Graduation & Technology Champions.
"Houston Technology Center has a proven record of commercializing breakthrough technologies," Scott Schwinger, president and CEO of The McNair Group, said in a written statement. He added, "These companies benefit society, create good jobs, and further diversify the thriving Houston economy. We are delighted to provide this investment to give these entrepreneurial companies a fast start in our community."
Walter Ulrich, president and CEO of the Houston Technology Center, said the investment program will benefit the next generation of entrepreneurs.
"Mr. McNair is the model entrepreneur who has brought so many benefits to Houston through his business acumen and his and his wife, Janice's, generosity and philanthropy," Ulrich said in the written statement. "This forward-looking investment program creates the springboard for the next generation of Bob McNairs who will build companies, create jobs and support this wonderful city."