The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has initiated a COVID-19 mask design competition, with officials touting a total award of $500,000 available to winning entries.
“We know that properly and consistently worn face masks help reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and other respiratory infections, but many people are reluctant to wear them for a variety of reasons,” Nikki Bratcher-Bowman, HHS acting Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), said. “With this mask challenge, we want to get people across the country involved in developing new masks that are both effective and comfortable. This will help us control COVID-19 and be better prepared for future public health emergencies.”
Authorities indicated the contest taps into creativity and the entrepreneurial spirit as a means of curbing the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, adding the initial phase invites new mask designs meeting detailed criteria while requesting the submitter describe how the design idea fits the criteria and solves the hurdles to mask wearing.
Up to 10 winning ideas will be selected to split $100,000 while the contest’s second phase involves participants submitting prototypes leveraging research on the filtration efficiency of materials and meeting criteria including filtration, fit, comfort, and how easily the design can be manufactured on a large scale. Up to five winning prototypes will split $400,000.
HHS noted contest winners must be American citizens or legal residents or U.S.-owned businesses operating domestically. Additionally, contest rules, including eligibility, criteria for winning entries, and how to submit a design, are available via Challenge.gov.