Springfree Trampoline inventor to receive Innovation Medal

Press Release – University of Canterbury

Associate Professor Keith Alexander will receive the inaugural University of Canterbury Innovation Medal at a special event being held to celebrate his achievement today.
Springfree Trampoline inventor to receive inaugural University of Canterbury Innovation Medal
Associate Professor Keith Alexander will receive the inaugural University of Canterbury Innovation Medal at a special event being held to celebrate his achievement today.
Professor Alexander (Mechanical Engineering) is well-known for his “spring-free” trampoline invention, which now sells around the world and has won seven international awards including 2010 Product of the Year USA and Canada, 2009 International Design Award Australia and the 2009 Parents’ Choice Award, USA.
Professor Alexander said it was an honour to receive the inaugural award.

“This award is part of a culture change within the University that acknowledges commercial outcomes as part of what we do. I am really pleased to be part of the University celebrating innovation as something that it does, alongside its teaching and research.

“I have mixed feelings about the recognition because innovation and commercialisation processes depend on input from many people, not just the initiator.”

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Town said there was very strong competition for the inaugural UC Innovation Medal and he was “delighted to see the breadth and depth of innovation at UC as evidenced by the nominations received”.

Professor Alexander was a very worthy recipient of the inaugural award, said Professor Town.

“Many people may not be aware of his many other ideas which are in various stages on the way to commercialisation. These innovations range from jet boat steering mechanisms, snow probes, ‘nifty lifters’ through to microhydro plants.”

Professor Alexander was a major driving force in setting up the University’s Product Innovation Centre (PIC) and is its current Director. PIC provides capability for academic and industrial partners to assist the transformation of research outcomes into new, innovative products.

“In the case of the Springfree Trampoline his innovation creates both wealth – selling well in a competitive international market – and beneficial value to the community by cutting down on the number of trampoline injuries. It has been estimated that if all the trampolines in the US were spring-free there would be 34,000 fewer children going to emergency departments each year.”

Professor Alexander has subsequently been involved in improving the international safety standards for trampolines. He is the secretary of the American Standards ASTM sub-committee “Trampolines and related Equipment” and has the personal goal of making the standards more effective in reducing injuries. His trampoline has become the benchmark against which others are now measured.

“Keith’s invention has created many jobs in New Zealand,” said Professor Town. “All of the special rods for the trampolines are made by a firm in Gisborne that ships out more than 10 containers of product per year. Furthermore, the Chinese company which makes the trampolines has employed 10 University of Canterbury graduates to help improve the design and manufacture of the product.”

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