HHS offering $500K for most comfortable face mask design

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HHS has launched a $500,000 competition to develop more comfortable face masks, The Hill  and CNN report.

The Mask Innovation Challenge — a partnership between the HHS Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority and the CDC's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health — aims to develop "the next generation of masks," according to an announcement reported April 4.

Masks are meant to protect the public from respiratory disease pathogens. But HHS said there are barriers that reduce use of masks, including contact dermatitis with prolonged wear, physical discomfort, fogging of eyeglasses and difficulty talking with others. 

That's why there is a need "to develop better designs, materials, and technologies that are more acceptable to wearers and that ensure quantified measures of performance," HHS said. 

Proposals will be graded on technological feasibility, innovation, whether the submission addresses barriers and limitations of existing masks, and whether the submission "is realistic, well-rounded, and presents a compelling solution that should be considered further."

HHS said the competition will run for at least six months and will be divided into two phases and a potential third phase.

In the first phase, which runs until 5 p.m. ET April 21, up to 10 finalists will receive up to $10,000 each to create a prototype, for a total of $100,000.

In the second phase, challenge participants will submit their proof of concept in response to a scenario, said HHS. A $400,000 prize will be divided among five winners of this phase. 

HHS said more information about phase two is forthcoming.

More information about contest eligibility guidelines and rules is available here

 

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