XPRIZE today announced that the million dollar Next-Gen Mask Challenge received record-breaking team entry numbers in their newest initiative that called upon young innovators from around the world ages 15 to 24 to reimagine protective face masks. By limiting participation to youth participants, XPRIZE aimed to galvanize the next generation of innovators, and the overwhelming response demonstrated the eagerness of Gen-Z creators to make an impact on the world.
Within 60 days, the XPRIZE Next-Gen Mask Challenge received 992 interested participants, making it the largest, most prolific call-to-action in XPRIZE Foundation history. Potential teams originated from 76 countries, proof of the global desire to overcome many of the common barriers associated with traditional protective masks.
“We understand that masks can be ill-fitting, uncomfortable, unfashionable, and that the most effective masks are often unavailable or expensive for everyday people. We need an alternative, that’s why XPRIZE is turning to the world’s young innovators to help reinvent the face mask and create an accessible alternative that will help protect against the spread of COVID-19,” said Peter H. Diamandis, XPRIZE founder and executive chairman. “We’re going to take the top 25 designs and find out if they’re manufacturable. Once we determine their manufacturability, we’re going to take the top 10 of those and go out to influencers to gauge acceptance.”
XPRIZE, a nonprofit organization that uses global competitions to crowdsource solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges, recognized that currently one-third of the US population doesn’t regularly wear a mask, despite evidence showing that when used properly they can significantly reduce transmission of viruses. The $1M XPRIZE Next-Gen Mask Challenge contest, sponsored by Marc Benioff and Jim Cramer, will award the grand prize to young innovators whose mask design best combines ingenuity, effectiveness, X-factor of style, and ability to overcome common barriers to use as measured by a pre-Challenge poll taken by over 3,000 participants.
“There is a gigantic amount of evidence that masks can stop the spread,” said Jim Cramer, the host of Mad Money on CNBC. “I’m so proud to sponsor the XPRIZE Next-Gen Mask Challenge with Marc Benioff, it’s amazing how resourceful people are when you ask them to design a mask that those who object to most masks might even wear.”
“If everyone in the United States wore a mask for 3 weeks — just 3 weeks — we would not have anymore coronavirus, because there would be no more spread, but people do not want to wear masks,” said sponsor Marc Benioff.
XPRIZE’s Next-Gen Mask Challenge will culminate in a final judging event, with in-lab testing this October supported by partners 3M and Honeywell and winners will be announced later this year. Additional details and the list of teams moving forward can be found here.
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.