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Innovation Aims To Give Cricketers Every Advantage

Palmerston North's OBO sporting goods manufacturer has an unusual research and development team - potentially every cricket player in the world.

The company is building on its expertise in foam production, which has seen it become one of the world's most respected manufacturers of hockey protective equipment, to branch out into developing similar protective equipment for cricket that is lighter and better fitting.

OBO's R&D was helped with a $97,000 grant from Technology New Zealand's Grants for Private Sector Research and Development scheme (GPSRD), part of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology

Matthew Bate, OBO's cricket project manager, is excited about the potential of entering a market that he believes could be ten or more times bigger than the company's already lucrative hockey market.

Feedback from hockey goal keepers around the world has helped OBO fine-tune its technological advances in innovative hockey gear and the co-operative trend looks set to continue for cricket.

"We're still in prototype stage but the players who have tested the gear in New Zealand, South Africa and Europe are in raptures about it. Initially we'll target the UK market, but we expect keen interest in Australia, South Africa and New Zealand," says Mr Bate.

"Having external funding allowed us to experiment with a larger number of variables and work with more players, in order to design the best 3D moulded foam leg guards and thigh protectors. We're aiming to increase player comfort, with equipment that's lighter and fits better, without compromising protection," he says.

The company will continue to manufacture in Palmerston North and expects to commercialise the cricket gear by year-end.


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