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Development and commercialisation of a safe, comfortable, adjustable and breathable body protector for dangerous sports industries.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Faze (Development and commercialisation of a safe, comfortable, adjustable and breathable body protector for dangerous sports industries.)

Período documentado: 2019-08-01 hasta 2020-01-31

Horse riding is a global pastime for millions of people and encompassing many disciplines with a risk of injury to participants, such as eventing, showjumping and racing. These risks provide the opportunity to develop protective products and the sports
the protective market was valued at $7,518 billion in 2018 with an expected CAGR of 3.9% to attain a market size of $10,171 billion by 2026.

The sports protective market can be segmented, based on product, application and geography and protection products can be classified as headwear, protective footwear, leg protection, mouthguards and torso and limb protection. Current body protectors within the equestrian sector are uncomfortable, poorly designed and lack innovation despite 37% of deaths being attributed to chest injuries. By combining viscoelastic and body forming foams to create an armadillo-style shell around the rider with durable, breathable and wicking textiles to protect the wearer and a patentable mechanism to securely fasten the overlapping sections of the product whilst also making it easily adjustable.

The objectives set were as follows:

1. To validate customer demand, consolidate knowledge on the potential global market size and complete full competitor analysis
2. To confirm the most suitable initial markets for commercialisation via B2B sales
3. To complete a pricing model based on the voice of customer responses
4. To identify the most suitable partners for commercial-scale manufacturing to meet the end-user demand
5. Determine regulatory and planning regulations in selected market entry countries for each market sector
6. Future project planning to map out the future technical development for the upscaling plan for all potential markets
7. Development of FAZE Business Plan
Phase 1 funding enabled dissemination at various trade events such as; BIHT and BETA International where contacts with key members of the press, trade and retail partners were established and entered into a CRM database. Interaction with key stakeholders at these events validated the interest in FAZE and the proposed price point to the customer of £299RPP, and to retailers of £155+VAT resulting in 40 pre-order sign-ups and the 1st UK retail customer (direct to retail sale) was secured.

These events also outlined the demand for a child’s protector and facilitated the promotion of FOMO as a brand thus increasing the visibility within the industry. Multiple issues were experienced within the supply chain e.g. the lack of a qualified pattern cutter and grader on-site, the time and monetary costs relating to travel to and from their location and the lack of progress made. The result of these events highlighted the need for a stricter service agreement with suppliers to meet deadlines and technical specification.

A small local production studio, more capable grader and pattern cutter were tasked with the continued development of FAZE to allow for improved input on the manufacturing process and quicker implementation despite the limited resources and lack of specialists available. They were able to produce the first scaled run from size 6-16 in various back lengths to EN 13158:2018 standard within the timescale to be sent for CE Testing following the confirmation of dates from the test house.

Collectively, there were several challenges experienced because of the difficulty conforming to the stringent EN 13158:2018 standard, particularly the grading of certain sizes due to the level of technical detail. The standard has not kept up to date with the equestrian industry as it has developed and needs to be completely overhauled and improved in line with the sport.

This prompted further exploration of the regulatory requirements and alternative manufacturers to meet the demands of the business and its willingness to scale up production. Achieving accreditation as soon as possible is of utmost importance to allow FOMO to commit to and plan marketing opportunities. A lot of effort has been expended determining the correct tone of voice, collecting product reviews from prominent social figures and conducting photoshoots with two pronounced young riders.

The Scottish export event and Horizon 2020 coaching session with Cyrille Boinay helped the FOMO team gain a better understanding of export requirements and opportunities in addition to updating the marketing and PR plans as well as developing a comprehensive business plan. It was established that a licencing model strategy would be the best and most cost-effective route for the European market by allowing FOMO to compete with pre-existing brands. Information was gathered surrounding the possibility of different funding options through DASA events to grow both nationally and internationally. The team has grown from 1 part-time member of staff to a team of 4 staff members as well as a board of directors.
The existing state of the art solutions to protecting against sharp and blunt impacts within the equestrian industry utilise air and foam technology. Both of which do not provide the level of breathability, adjustability and flexibility that riders require. Air technology products are required to be worn with another BETA level 3 approved protector as they do not currently meet this standard on their own. Furthermore, issues have been raised surrounding the initiation of inflation as it relies on a physical connection between the horse and the rider being broken, which is unreliable. Foam technology is the most common form of body protector however body protection in the equestrian industry over the last decade has lacked innovation with most products using ‘of the shelf’ technologies, reusing previous designs with slight alterations and are only required to protect against relatively low impact forces as per EN 13158:2018.

FAZE is the first truly comfortable and safe body protector for horse riders designed specifically with the user in mind and not only meets but exceeds, the EN 13158:2018 standards for impact protection, providing up to 40% greater protection than the industry standard, thus, changing rider’s perceptions of body protectors. The company has worked alongside leading universities to rethink testing and create more life-like test protocols, allowing the team to assess energy dissipation, stresses and strains on the skin, muscle, bone and internal organs resulting in the best possible protector for the user and easier international infiltration.

An increased number of riders wearing body protection will see a decrease in the severity and amount of injuries. The introduction of FAZE into various markets would have positive impacts on the wider society and economy as follows:
● A lower frequency of severe sports-related injuries in equestrian and other industries reducing the economic burden placed on an already stretched NHS.
● The adoption of FAZE into various markets would create numerous jobs at both FOMO itself and at relevant manufacturers to meet the demands of fabricating FAZE products. This would lead to an increase in the local and European economy.
● During the FAZE manufacturing process, there will be leftover pieces of foam which will be used to create saddle pads and fly veils, ensuring minimal waste.
● The reduction of the number of overall injuries will improve the equestrian industry’s safety thus increasing the uptake of the sport and helping to counteract the current obesity issues across the globe.
Coaching Session
Marketing Outputs