ThermApparel has partnered with MS Focus: The Multiple Sclerosis Foundation to provide cooling relief to MS patients who suffer from heat sensitivity.
A company in Rochester Institute of Technology’s Venture Creations business incubator, ThermApparel designs UnderCool, lightweight cooling vests. These vests weigh less than 2 pounds and are made with a four-way stretch fabric that holds a biodegradable and non-toxic phase change material that freezes at room temperature and keeps a person cool for more than an hour.
“It’s exciting to be able to get our cooling vests out to the people who really need them,” said ThermApparel co-founder and RIT alumnus Kurtis Kracke. “The vest is mailed directly to customers as soon as they’re approved for the program.”
ThermApparel started as a multidisciplinary student project in 2015 through RIT’s Simone Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. It now sells cooling vests in 40 states and in nine countries. The company is also expanding to market to customers who are heat sensitive due to medical drug side effects, hormonal imbalances, traumatic brain injuries and other neurological disorders.
“Many cooling apparel products that are on the market are not specifically made for people living with medical disorders, but instead for people who may become overheated working in factories or on construction sites,” explains Bradley Dunn. “Our cooling vest has unique features that were requested by people living with MS, including its ability to be virtually invisible under clothing and extremely lightweight. And it’s very comfortable.”
People can apply to the MS Foundations’ Cooling Program between February and June. If selected for the program, they can choose cooling garments from one of three providers, including ThermApparel.
“We started the company because we just didn’t want to see this go on the shelf as a student project that never became anything,” Kracke said . “We see ourselves as problem solvers, and we started this business to help people once again experience the joys of outdoor life.”
In 2015, ThermApparel won second place in RIT’s Tiger Tank competition and second place in the Effective Access Technology Conference product competition. In 2016, the company was a student achievement finalist at the Digital Rochester GREAT Awards and won the Al Sigl Award at Imagine RIT: Innovation and Creativity Festival. In 2017, the company took second place at the Rochester Venture Challenge.