Enterprise Europe Network

Training future astronauts with Swedish triathlon technology

Posted: 03 Oct 2016

Sports equipment innovation developed in Sweden undergoes expert testing in Italy thanks to the Enterprise Europe Network.

Copyright: Alessandro Cozzani, 2016

The more a product is tested before entering a market, the more likely it will succeed. That was the thinking of entrepreneur Alessandro Cozzani who partnered with a European Space Agency research project to test TRION, his innovative triathlon equipment, and it was all thanks to the Enterprise Europe Network.

In 2008 Alessandro Cozzani knocked on the door of Malmö RedHawk’s ice hockey team in Sweden asking if they wanted a physiotherapist, and it just so happened they did. It was here that he noticed how repetitive rehabilitation training could be and, along with the famous Swedish hockey player Martin Samuelsson, Alessandro developed a unique device for high-intensity interval training based on a triathlon.

"I designed an all-in-one modular room that contained a small swimming pool, a real bike where you have to maintain a natural balance and speed, and a treadmill powered by human power, not by a motor," said Alessandro.

Whether it’s a sports team, school or even an office building, TRION can offer high-intensity training or rehabilitation treatment to customers with small spaces and limited budgets. It also comes with a software that monitors and evaluates performance.

"We thought we had the most effective training in the world, all in a 16m2 room, but we still needed to evaluate the methodology," said Alessandro. "We contacted the Enterprise Europe Network and through its members we started a partnership with the University of Verona who were willing to test our prototype." The Enterprise Europe Network is the world's largest support network for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) with international ambitions.

Leading the experiment was Paolo Bruseghini, an alpine skier and sport scientist, who was studying the advantages of high-intensity interval training as part of a PhD. His research was funded by the European Space Agency and Alessandro’s equipment provided the perfect opportunity to test high-intensity training for astronauts before and after missions.

"It started with a three hour phone call that grew into a partnership and then friendship," said Paolo. "It’s the perfect opportunity for both of us to collect the physiological and biomechanical data that can help us verify the effectiveness of high-intensity training."

Paolo is now using Alessandro’s equipment to understand the health benefits of high-intensity training, not just on astronauts, but on general performance too. Meanwhile TriROOM Innovation, Alessandro’s company, has received the validation of their sports equipment and are preparing to launch TRION this year, with clients already lined up in Italy and China.

Bridging these projects together were two Network partners, Stefan Dahlhielm from LTU Business in Sweden and Marco Gorini from Veneto Innovazione in Venice, Italy. They were both members of a Network Sector Group which combines international business expertise with local knowledge. Thanks to their involvement in the Aeronautics, Space and Dual-Use Technologies Sector Group they saw a potential partnership between their clients.

"We share knowledge of local skills and that really helps this type of cooperation," said Marco. "The added value is we can find new market applications of businesses that aren’t aware of such possibilities."

Stefan added that "the partnership was a success as it combines the theoretical knowledge of the University of Verona, with the skills and experience of TriROOM."

Alessandro hadn’t thought of applying TRION to astronauts, but thanks to the Network he has strengthened his branding strategy and increased the chances of success when entering the market this year.

"Without Marco and Stefan it wouldn’t have been possible to go from Italy to Sweden and find the right person that could do exactly what we needed," said Alessandro. "Through the University of Verona we can now make TRION even better."

Aeronautics, Space and Defence