By MALCOLM MARTINSBy MALCOLL MORRIS and MARK KARLSTEINMARTINS, Ohio (Reuters) – Nike Inc said on Wednesday it had bought a minority stake in Fila Safety, a Boston-based startup that provides safety-related products and services that aim to improve the way people walk and work.
The deal, the second in less than a week, is expected to help the maker of shoes and shoes-related goods get more traction in a crowded market.
The deal, which has not yet been formally announced, is the second acquisition of a safety startup this year.
Last week, Nike’s own Adidas AG agreed to acquire a safety-oriented startup that helps customers identify problems and prevent injuries, the same day that a rival maker, Fitbit Inc, also signed up for Fila’s safety platform.
Nike, which sells more than 400,000 pairs of shoes, said it has made the Fila partnership because of its strong track record in making safety products and in helping companies understand and improve their safety.
“We see this as a good fit with Nike,” Fila Chief Executive Officer Michael L. Giannini said.
Fila has worked with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration to improve safety training for workers in factories and other workplaces, which are often unsafe.
It also offers a smartphone app to track and share injuries, as well as video-conferencing and mobile apps that allow employees to keep track of their surroundings and help people make informed decisions.
The partnership with Nike gives Fila a “strong presence in the safety space,” said John Loeffler, who heads the business and safety research firm Instinct Inc.
The Fila team has developed safety apps for retailers and other companies that allow them to track injuries and track users’ behavior.
It has also partnered with retailers to share data about how people use their products and how well they function, and to provide advice on how to make the products safer.
“Our ability to use this technology is extremely important for retailers,” said Loeppler, adding that the partnership with the shoe maker gives them access to more data about their users.
Fella’s product offerings include an app called WalkSafe that helps shoppers identify potentially dangerous situations.
It is also working with the Boston Redevelopment Authority to improve pedestrian safety in areas of Boston’s Fenway Park.
Fifa is a startup based in Boston that makes products for retailers, including shoes, clothing and apparel.
It offers a phone app that helps people find their way around crowded areas and allows people to communicate in safety-critical situations.
Its products, including safety shoes and protective footwear, also have been used by the military and the U,S.