HHS launches mask design improvement competition to create “the next generation of masks”

HHS launches mask design improvement competition to create “the next generation of masks”

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has launched a competition to create “the next generation of masks” with the winning submission accepting a $500,000 cash prize.

The competition — “Mask Innovation Challenge: Building Tomorrow’s Mask” — is a partnership between HHS’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

In the declaration, HHS takes note of that numerous health authorities all throughout the world are urging individuals to wear masks to alleviate the spread of infectious diseases, yet masks regularly present a few challenges, for example, “contact dermatitis with prolonged wear, physical discomfort, fogging of eyeglasses, and difficulty communicating.”

“The Mask Innovation Challenge seeks to develop innovative and effective designs for mass-producible, low-cost-per-use devices to be worn by the general public in order to provide protection from respiratory disease pathogens,” the HHS said in the competition’s description.

The submitted designs will be decided by four criteria: technological feasibility; development; regardless of whether they address existing mask barriers; and the general design.

The competition will be divided into two distinct stages and occur more than a half year.

Phase 1 will include members presenting their designs to BARDA. An opportunity to send in submissions for mask design started on Wednesday, March 31 and will end on April 21, 2021 at 5 p.m. ET. In Phase 1, up to 10 winners will get up to $10,000 each to make a model of their masks.

In Phase 2 of the competition, challenge members will be approached to submit their proof-of-concept in light of a situation. A prize of $400,000 will be split between five winners of Phase 2.