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Mizuno and BASF Pioneer ‘Center of Balance’ Footwear Technology

Mizuno is taking an “upscale” approach to running shoes.

The Tokyo-based sportwear firm is incorporating German chemical manufacturer BASF’s Elastopan polyurethane midsole material into a capsule of “upscale performance” training shoes to power its new Center of Balance (COB) footwear technology.

COB was designed to pass along information from the sole of the shoe through the midsole via “activation bumps.” Mizuno described the benefits of this technique as enabling a better sense of balance when training, due to a greater amount of sensory information being delivered to the foot.

Natsuki Sato, a member of the global footwear product division at the Mizuno Corporation, emphasized the importance of balance as “a key requirement for a wide variety of sports.”

“By improving balance,”  Sato added, “we have made a positive impact on athletic performance and shaped the future of footwear. Mizuno has always emphasized the importance of product innovation as a key growth driver for our company.”

BASF’s advanced material science technology, and its starring role in enabling the midsole’s new geometries, has been integral to making Mizuno’s new training shoe a reality, Sato explained.

Those “new geometries” factor heavily into the two new silhouettes that have launched with Elastopan-infused COB technology: the Mizuno TC-01 and TC-02. The Elastopan inside both styles offers midsoles improved hydrolysis resistance and bonding strength for longer-lasting and solidly built performance, the companies said.

Conventional materials wouldn’t be able to conform as easily and seamlessly as Elastopan does to the uneven surface of the COB midsole, BASF added.

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“BASF has always been committed to exciting the market with the best innovations for footwear brands at every level, and we have effectively done that again for Mizuno’s new training footwear,” said Manfred Pawlowski, vice president of the consumer industry and performance materials departments at BASF Asia Pacific, adding that “innovation is a key pillar of BASF’s growth.”

“Sharing a common goal of pursuing innovation and performance, we are confident that our polyurethane midsole,” Pawlowski continued, “combined with Mizuno’s COB technology, will maximize comfort and functionality in footwear applications.”

The TC-01 sells for $140 and the TC-02 is offered at $100 through Mizuno’s e-commerce and retail channels.

Recently, BASF has made significant investments in footwear materials and the footwear industry as a whole. In September, company announced plans to open new footwear development centers in Thailand and the United States. It’s expanding its existing footwear facility in Italy and opening a new innovation center in Taiwan.