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Prizes to USA Individuals and For-Profits
to Design Next-Generation Face Masks

Mask Innovation Challenge: Phase 2

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Challenge.Gov, Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

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Prizes to USA individuals and for-profits to design next-generation face masks. Applicants must submit registration information prior to the full application deadline. The program is intended to create a face mask that has fewer barriers to overall usage. The current barriers present an opportunity for innovators to design masks that could be more acceptable to wearers and have verifiable measures of performance.

21st century health threats are ever evolving and require similarly adaptable solutions. From wildfire smoke, pollution in large cities, to disease-causing infectious biological aerosols (e.g., influenza virus), the general public needs effective solutions to prevent adverse health consequences associated with airborne exposures. Many of these exposures are not mutually exclusive, and some individuals may be exposed to multiple types of airborne hazards, thus increasing potential negative impacts on health. 

Masks are products worn on the face that provide varying ability to block and filter particulates from the wearer to help prevent disease transmission to others (i.e., they may provide a level of source control). Masks may also provide some level of protection to the wearer depending on their design elements and their ability to fit the wearer. However, notable barriers remain that reduce overall mask usage. Among these barriers are:

  • Currently available retail masks are often untested, thus having unknown performance capabilities,
  • Physical discomfort with prolonged use, particularly in hot and humid environments,
  • Discomfort related to breathing resistance,
  • Irritant contact dermatitis with extended wear,
  • Inability to effectively communicate with others (speech is muffled, and others cannot see the wearer’s facial expressions)
  • Fogging of eyeglasses

Phase 2 of the Mask Innovation Challenge represents a bold step in reimagining masks for the general public that provide both source control and some level of protection to the wearer. Entries are encouraged to have protection for a variety of airborne hazards. The goal of Phase 2 is to accelerate the development of the next-generation face masks, which aims to meet the performance and design criteria of the “Moonshot Criteria” in the Target Product Profile (TPP). The Mask Challenge organizers developed the “Moonshot Criteria” as ambitious performance targets for accelerating mask innovation and overcoming barriers to user acceptance.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 200334

Estimated Size of Grant:

Mask Innovation Challenge: Phase 2
- 2 finalists will each receive $150,000
- 2 semi-finalists will each receive $50,000

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Eligibility Rules for Participating in the Competition: To be eligible to win a prize under this Challenge, an individual or entity—
1. Shall have registered to participate in the competition under the rules promulgated by HHS;
2. Shall have complied with all the requirements under this section;
3. In the case of a private entity, shall be incorporated in and maintain a primary place of business in the United States, and in the case of an individual, whether participating singly or in a group, shall be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States;
4. May not be a Federal entity or Federal employee acting within the scope of their employment (all non-HHS federal employees must consult with their agency Ethics Official to determine whether the federal ethics rules will limit or prohibit the acceptance of a COMPETES Act prize);
5. Shall not be an HHS employee;
6. Federal grantees may not use Federal funds to develop submissions unless consistent with the purpose of their grant award; and
7. Federal contractors may not use Federal funds from a contract to develop COMPETES Act challenge applications or to fund efforts in support of a COMPETES Act challenge submission.
8. To be eligible to receive final prize funding, all teams must participate in each round of the competition. Teams may not opt out of any round of the competition.

Additional Eligibility Requirements and Exclusion Criteria can be found at

Pre-proposal Conference:

- 12/16/21 3:00 PM EST

Phase 2 of the Mask Innovation Challenge represents a bold step in reimagining masks for the general public that provide both source control and some level of protection to the wearer. In this phase of the challenge, selected participants will be invited to submit prototypes for testing. More information can be found here.

There’ll be time for Q&A so come with any questions or email them beforehand.

Register at:

Pre-Application Information:

Timeline Overview:
- Dec. 6, 2021: Competition Launch
- Dec. 6 – 31, 2021 11:59 PM EST: Registration Period
- Dec. 16, 2021: Public Information Webinar
- Jan. 4 – Mar. 18, 2022: Round 1: White Paper and Judging
- Mar. 18 – Apr. 19, 2022: Round 2: NIOSH/NIST Laboratory Testing
- Apr. 19 – Aug. 17, 2022: Round 3: Redesign Period for Prototypes
- Fall 2022: Round 4: Final Mask Face-Off
- Sep. 16 – 30, 2022: Competition Period Closes
- Sep. 30 – Oct. 14, 2022: Announce Winners

Technical White Paper
- 01/04/22 09:00 PM EST: Round 1: Technical White Paper Submission Period Opens
- 02/14/22 11:59 AM EST: Round 1: Technical White Paper Submission Period Closes

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

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Submit questions for the webinar to

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Geographic Focus:

USA: Alabama;   Alaska;   Arizona;   Arkansas;   California;   Colorado;   Connecticut;   Delaware;   Florida;   Georgia;   Hawaii;   Idaho;   Illinois;   Indiana;   Iowa;   Kansas;   Kentucky;   Louisiana;   Maine;   Maryland;   Massachusetts;   Michigan;   Minnesota;   Mississippi;   Missouri;   Montana;   Nebraska;   Nevada;   New Hampshire;   New Jersey;   New Mexico;   New York City;   New York;   North Carolina;   North Dakota;   Ohio;   Oklahoma;   Oregon;   Pennsylvania;   Rhode Island;   South Carolina;   South Dakota;   Tennessee;   Texas;   Utah;   Vermont;   Virginia;   Washington, DC;   Washington;   West Virginia;   Wisconsin;   Wyoming

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