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Graduate corners the market in hockey training aids

A Middlesex graduate has found his final year project turned into a market product by an international sports company.

A Middlesex graduate has found his final year project turned into a market product by an international sports company.

David Knight, who graduated with a BSc in Engineering Product Design in the summer of 2008, saw three innovative hockey training products he designed during his final year go on sale all over the globe recently.

A keen hockey player who captained the University’s team, David decided to combine his love of the sport with his engineering and design skills in the final year of the course to create three training aids for goalkeepers: the Bobbla Ball, Flicka Stick and D’Flecta Mat, for OBO, a company that makes equipment for hockey goalkeepers.

In the 2008 Beijing Olympics, 60% of goalkeepers wore OBO kit and the company has a 65% share of the field hockey goalkeeping market worldwide.

David said: “During my final year I emailed the company and told them I was interested in doing a live project with them.  I was working on five designs and three of these got picked up.  When I graduated I was lucky enough to go and work with them at their New Zealand headquarters to commercialise the products.”

Dr Andy Bardill and Wyn Griffiths, of Middlesex University’s Innovation Centre, helped David develop his concepts.

David said: “At the start of my final year I had to do a critique, where you explain your ideas and Wyn and Andy encouraged me to develop five  concepts.”

After dropping two of these for various reasons, including cost of production, he contacted OBO and agreed with them to take the designs forward.

Simon Barnett is the Team Captain at OBO.  He said: “Because OBO already holds around a 65% global market share of the goal keeping market a brand new category such as training products are the only way for this company to grow.

“It’s not enough for an OBO product to work, this is a given, but they must be durable and also look sensational. The expertise that David brought to this project enabled us to achieve this.”
David said: “I was fortunate as I got to work on the products from the concept stage, through development and up to production of the final pieces of kit.”

He now hopes the equipment he designed as part of a university project will be used to train goal keepers on hockey fields all over the world.

Wyn Griffiths said: “David’s success is down to his abilities as a product engineer. We worked with him to develop his concepts, from the original ideas, through iterative testing and, finally, to proof-of-principle prototypes. He complemented the technical skills he had developed during his time at Middlesex University with his drive and initiative, which, in partnership with OBO, allowed him to take his products through to launch in 62 countries.”

He added: “It’s great to see our former students and the approaches we teach in Product Design and Engineering and apply through the Middlesex Design and Innovation Centre flourishing on the international stage.”

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