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If You Can Design A New Facemask, The US Government Will Pay You $500,000

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The US government’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) has announced a competition with the aim to design a next generation of facemask. The winner of the competition will have a potential $500,000 total prize waiting for them.


Masks have become a familiar sight and even a huge part of fashion due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, after wearing them for long they can get very uncomfortable and are suitable during exercises, hence a search for a solution.


The Mask Innovation Challenge was created in partnership with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (an organization under the CDC) to address some of the most common complaints people have when wearing masks.  These complaints include the fact they can fog up glasses, irritate your skin, become uncomfortable to wear, get in the way of communication, and even potentially let COVID-19 particles in through the sides.

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The competition will have two phases. The first phase focuses on “design”, of the facemask and is split into two. The first will consider redesigning existing masks, while the other is to focus on new technologies and materials.


Submissions for both phases are to include actual schematics for building the proposed masks. NIOSH says it may also tests these masks in the future. Phase One of the competition will produce up to 10 winners. Each winner will receive $10,000 to build a prototype of their masks.


The second phase is more like a “proof-of-concept phase” requiring contestants to design a brand-new mask, not based on any existing mask, for an hypothetical scenario. The entrants for this phase will submit physical prototypes of their masks to NIOSH for testing. There will be up to five winners for this phase and they’ll split a total prize pool of $400,000. NIOSH and BARDA say they’ll provide more details for this phase at a later date.


To enter phase one of the competition, interested participants have unit 21st April 2021 to make their submissions for the Mask Innovation Challenge.



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