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Taking astronaut fitness training to new heights

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

Alessandro Cozzani is a former sports therapist who has turned his passion for training into a business that specialises in physical training for astronauts.

He developed his idea while working for an ice hockey team in Sweden. The concept centred on high-power interval training in a small indoor space, using a single machine for swimming, running and cycling.

Starting a business from scratch

Keen to get started, Alessandro teamed up with a fellow hockey player, Martin Samuelsson , to launch a company, TriRoom Innovation AB. Alessandro then enlisted a Swedish company to build a prototype of the machine, known as TRION.

The next step for Alessandro was to test the product. But to do this, he needed to find experts in this niche field. At this point he turned to the Enterprise Europe Network who he met at a promotional event at Luleå Technical University. After discussing Alessandro’s specific needs in depth, Network adviser Stefan Dahlhielm launched a targeted partner request through the Network’s extensive technology database and at the same time personally alerted colleagues to this new business opportunity.

Getting the prototype tested

Stefan, a member of the Network’s Sector Group on Aeronautics and Space, was particularly excited to learn about the equipment’s potential for training and rehabilitation of astronauts returning from the International Space Station (ISS) or any other space missions.

Given his Sector Group colleagues’ extensive contacts in this specific area, he made a point of flagging up Alessandro’s invention.

His approach worked: fellow Sector Group member Marco Gorini, based in Veneto Innovazione in Venice knew the researcher Dr Paolo Bruseghini from the Department of Neurosciences, Biomedicine and Movement Sciences at the University of Verona, who was looking to exploit his research into aerospace medicine and high-interval training. The Network put Alessandro and Paolo in touch and within months they had formally agreed to collaborate.

The teamwork continues

At the University of Verona, Paolo and his team are now testing the equipment on different groups of individuals, with the first results due out in 2016. Alessandro plans to share the findings with the European Space Agency and hopes that it will take his innovation on board. Alessandro also continues to work closely with Marco and Stefan to find additional contacts, from medical professionals to equipment and design manufacturers, to help turn his idea into a commercial success.

“Thanks to the Enterprise Europe Network, men and women travelling to the International Space Station may one day be trained on my equipment,” said Alessandro. “I’m honoured to work with such a great team.”

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