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Rights: © Copyright 2014. University of Waikato. All rights reserved.
Published 27 November 2014
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Driven by a desire to create a safer trampoline for his own children, Professor Keith Alexander (Mechanical Engineering, University of Canterbury) came up with an innovative new design.

Doug Hill, Managing Director of Springfree New Zealand, and Professor Keith Alexander talk about the development and success of the Springfree trampoline. Springfree Trampoline NZ are now selling around 40,000 units per year. Their commercial success was recognised when they were named as a finalist in the KiwiNet Commercial Deal Award.

Transcript

Professor Keith Alexander
When I got children of my own, when my daughter came along, I thought, right, time to have a trampoline, and my wife said, “No, they’re too dangerous.” I did a bit of research and I found that, yes, trampolines were dangerous – causing a lot of injuries – around New Zealand in particular, and so I thought, well, as an engineer, maybe I can do something about this.

Doug Hill
Keith was the first guy to create some kind of radical departure from the original traditional trampoline design. What Keith designed is safer, so it removes … you know, statistically, we now know it removes about 85% of the injury risk. For every 16 Springfrees that are installed in backyards around the world, one kid stays out of accident and emergency.

Professor Keith Alexander
I knew nothing about commercialisation, so when I started in the commercial part of it, I thought I’d be pretty happy with getting 30 or 40 trampolines sold in New Zealand a year, and now we’re selling 40,000 of them a year, and the business is growing. It’s pretty exciting to drive down the road in somewhere like Toronto and see one in someone’s backyard. Taking an idea to a company and working with them is like a marriage, it’s a long-term thing.

Doug Hill
There are large numbers of people employed in Gisborne and Christchurch producing components every week that are containerised and shipped to China. Actual factory that produces the trampolines now, even though that’s based in Dongwang, China, it’s owned by Springfree New Zealand. We’ve been able to sustain that and justify that investment based on the fact that Keith Alexander was prepared to effectively underwrite the technical expertise that was required to set that manufacturing facility up.

Professor Keith Alexander
My idea to make a safer trampoline, it wasn’t to make money, it was really to get safer trampolines out there so parents could have a choice and could choose something that was safer and kids could have fun without injuring themselves.

Acknowledgement
Video courtesy of Kiwi Innovation Network Limited
© Kiwi Innovation Network Limited, 2013