XPRIZE PARTNERS WITH SEVEN INDUSTRY LEADING ORGANIZATIONS AND ANNOUNCES THE 25 INTERNATIONAL TEAMS MOVING FORWARD IN MILLION DOLLAR NEXT-GEN MASK CHALLENGE

Sep 23 2020

Representing 12 Countries, Selected Teams of Young Innovators Ages 15-24 Are Tasked with Reinventing the Traditional Face Mask to Promote Positive Mask-Wearing Behavior 

NEW YORK, NEW YORK (September 23, 2020) – XPRIZE, the world’s leader in designing and operating incentive competitions to solve humanity’s grand challenges, is pleased to announce, in tandem with the rollout of their seven industry partners, the selection of the 25 international teams moving forward in the $1 Million XPRIZE Next-Gen Mask Challenge. Youth representing 12 countries moved forward in the challenge based on their design’s ingenuity, effectiveness, X-factor of style, and ability to overcome common barriers to use.

As the competition continues, progressing teams will have the opportunity to interact with XPRIZE’s industry partners which include: 3M, Autodesk Inc., Bryan Cave, Honeywell, Lydall, National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and Under Armour. Each partner organization will be lending their expertise to participants throughout the remaining length of the challenge. Manufacturing partners have the opportunity to bid on the contestant designs, potentially providing access to their industry-leading facilities, materials and labs, while team success partners will provide mentorship and resources to competing teams throughout their journey. All partner organizations will help teams finalize their prototypes, prepare them for testing and, ultimately, support the production and adoption of the winning team’s mask.

Launched in July, the four-month Next-Gen Mask Challenge, which is sponsored by Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and CNBC Host Jim Cramer, invites young innovators to shift cultural perspectives around mask wearing by developing the next generation of surgical-grade consumer face masks. In the end, a grand prize winner plus two additional teams will split a $1 million prize purse, and will be armed with the tools needed to take their winning design to market and made available for consumers at reasonable costs.

“We are in the midst of an unprecedented global crisis,” said Peter H. Diamandis, XPRIZE founder and executive chairman. “We know that wearing a mask is an effective way to curtail the spread of COVID-19, yet many find masks undesirable for many reasons from comfort to fashion. The mission of the Next-Gen Mask Challenge is to resolve this situation, to drive innovation that results in a new generation of masks that are comfortable, safe, fashionable and ultimately desirable, encouraging mask wearing behavior. Thus far, we’ve been so impressed with what our competing teams have developed. Our next step is to connect these teams with our ecosystem manufacturing partners who will provide mentorship, resources and guidance.”

Throughout the competition, which will conclude in November, contestants will receive support from this competition’s prize partners, which include:

3M – A manufacturing partner that is prototyping, testing, judging and potentially manufacturing the winning designs.

Autodesk Inc. – Providing free access to its professional design software to participating student teams and design training resources to all competitors. While eligible students will have access to Autodesk’s full design suite, specialized learning assets and webinars for Fusion 360 will be made available to participants. For more information on Autodesk design tools and learning resources, visit here.

Bryan Cave – Offering pro-bono legal counsel on intellectual property rights for competitors. 

Honeywell – A manufacturing partner that is prototyping, testing, judging and potentially manufacturing the winning designs. 

Lydall – Donating fine fiber meltblown filtration media, the same material used in N95 respirators and surgical masks, to competing teams, as well as resources to educate competitors on the importance of filters in masks.

NAM – Supporting recruitment, team mentorship, prototyping support and other services to democratize the competition and support teams.

Under Armour – Providing team mentorship on fashion, design and the use of performance materials.

“As an organization that believes deeply that innovation and breakthroughs can come from anyone and anywhere, we were super happy to receive interest from over 900 teams of young people that represented 33 countries, with our youngest submission coming from an individual under the age of 15,” said Anousheh Ansari, XPRIZE CEO. “Each submission was thoroughly reviewed by XPRIZE independent judges and ultimately as difficult as it was, they were able to select those designs that reinvented the traditional face mask. We’re excited to see these innovations come to life as the contest progresses to the next phase, and we continue working with the selected teams and hope to see their mask in the market soon.”

XPRIZE’s Next-Gen Mask Challenge will culminate in a final judging event, with in-lab testing this October, and winners will be announced later this year. Additional details and the list of teams moving forward can be found here.

Additional Quotes from XPRIZE Next-Gen Mask Challenge Partners:

“XPRIZE and 3M have a shared goal of inspiring the next generation of scientists and innovators who are challenging the status quo and daring to create a better world,” said Denise Rutherford, 3M’s senior vice president of corporate affairs. “At 3M, we believe that science, creativity and collaboration are critical in helping to solve the world’s biggest challenges. We are excited to participate in this important challenge, and to mentor XPRIZE contestants in order to accelerate their dreams into reality.

“This collaboration with XPRIZE will inspire bold ideas and new solutions to help our society respond to the pandemic,” said Will Lange, president of Honeywell’s personal protective business. “At Honeywell, we’re excited to support the next generation of engineers, designers and creative thinkers who will challenge conventions, keep people safe and help shape our future.”

“Innovation is core to who we are, and that means not only challenging ourselves to advance filtration science, but also supporting the next generation of innovators,” said Ashish Diwanji, President of Lydall Performance Materials. “We’re honored to use our knowledge and resources to support XPRIZE and the young adults who are passionate about addressing the greatest global health crisis in over a century. I speak on behalf of all my colleagues at Lydall when I say that we can’t wait to see what kinds of solutions the teams come up with.”

“As society continues to navigate the coronavirus pandemic, new technology and innovation in the PPE space are needed now more than ever,” said Under Armour Founder Kevin Plank. “I'm inspired to partner with XPRIZE on the Next-Gen Mask Challenge and support the brilliant young engineers and designers developing the next mask solution."

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ABOUT XPRIZE

XPRIZE, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is the global leader in designing and implementing innovative competition models to solve the world’s grandest challenges. Active competitions include the $20 Million NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE, the $10 Million Rainforest XPRIZE, the $10 Million ANA Avatar XPRIZE, the $5 Million IBM Watson AI XPRIZE, $5 Million XPRIZE Rapid Reskilling, XPRIZE NextGen Mask Challenge and $5 Million XPRIZE Rapid COVID Testing. For more information, visit xprize.org.

CONTACT: 

Loren O’Neill/Full Picture/303.908.3302
Caden Kinard/XPRIZE/949.280.0182