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Help The U.S. Government Design a Better Face Mask

Analysis  |  By Mandy Roth  
   January 08, 2021

BARDA DRIVe and NIOSH create the Mask Innovation Challenge; the deadline for initial input is January 15.

Got an idea for a better protective face mask? The U.S. government wants to hear from you.

Two government entities are joining forces to create the Mask Innovation Challenge, soliciting input for ideas by January 15.

Tired of straps that irritate and yank on ears? Abhor loose masks that easily slip below the nose? Detest designs that fog up glasses? Ideas for improvements are welcome.

The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority's (BARDA) Division of Research, Innovation, and Ventures (DRIVe) has partnered with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to create the innovation challenge.

The initiative aims to support development of innovative masks that can protect Americans from respiratory pathogens. The first phase of the contest seeks to understand the barriers and challenges associated with the next generation of innovative mask designs.

According to a news release, the initiative will support development of improved mask designs and related technologies that:

  • Are more comfortable
  • Have improved fit
  • Meet predefined performance standards, including protection to the wearer and preventing some level of particles escaping from the mask

By 5 p.m. ET, January 15, interested parties should submit their comments to related to what evaluation criteria and testing protocols should be used in the challenge.

BARDA DRIVe and NIOSH also are considering private sector partnerships to support the outreach efforts associated with the mask design challenge. More information is available on the DRIVe website by clicking on the RFI tab about halfway down the page.

Mandy Roth is the innovations editor at HealthLeaders.

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