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XPRIZE Announces Winners of Million Dollar Next-Gen Mask Challenge to Reveal the Next Generation of Face Masks Following a Virtual Pitch Slam

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XPRIZE, a nonprofit organization that uses global competitions to crowdsource solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges, is pleased to announce that, following last week’s pitch slam, Luminosity Lab from the United States has been named the grand prize winner of the organization’s Next-Gen Mask Challenge. Selected by the competition’s panel of judges, which included a diverse set of industry professionals and executives, Luminosity Lab was chosen from the other finalists for their mask’s design, x-factor of style, early assessments of accessibility and functionality. The winning team is student-led and developed the FloeMask, which uses a bifurcated filtration chamber to achieve filtration and breathability for use everyday and during exercise, diverting heat from the wearer’s face.

Luminosity Lab is from Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona and includes Nikhil Dave (age 20), Tarun Suresh (age 22), Katie Sue Pascavis (age 19), John Patterson (age 22) and Jerina Winter Gabriel (age 20). The team of five felt compelled to spring into action after witnessing the devastating impact the COVID-19 pandemic had on their Arizona community. Within the first few months of the crisis, the students behind Luminosity Lab helped develop the PPE Response Network, which was responsible for crowdsourcing 3D printers across Arizona to create and distribute over 15,000 units of PPE to clinics facing shortages, and designed two patent-pending technologies capable of sterilizing disposable N95 masks for reuse. Their participation in the XPRIZE Next-Gen Mask Challenge was driven by their desire to design a better way to protect those that choose to wear a mask and help communities around the world. The winning team will receive a total prize purse of $500,000, exiting the competition with the network and knowledge needed to further refine their prototype, and ensure it meets filtration requirements, should they decide to bring their design to market in the future.

In addition, two teams, Polair from John Hopkins University in Maryland and Naija Force from Abuja, Nigeria, have been named runners up in the competition and will split $500,000 as the two category winners. Team Polair, composed of 25 engineering undergraduates, was chosen as the Future Forward Award winner and won $250,000 for their prototype’s modular design which allows users to swap out mask bodies and choose a filter based on their environment. Naija Force won $250,000 as the winner of the ‘Mass’k Appeal Award for the transparent face mask they designed, which features straps that can be worn over the ear or on-head. These teams will now begin the process of refining their mask to ensure they meet key filtration metrics.

Launched this July amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the XPRIZE Next-Gen Mask Challenge, sponsored by Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and CNBC host Jim Cramer, asked young inventors between the ages of 15-24 to develop the next generation of protective face masks. Throughout the competition, teams had the opportunity to interact with the challenge’s seven industry partners, who lent their expertise to contestants, including: 3M, Autodesk Inc., Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP, Honeywell, Lydall, National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and Under Armour. The competition, which received record entries with 992 teams from 76 countries expressing interest within two months, encouraged teams to design a face mask that overcame at least five of the top ten barriers to mask-wearing, as defined by an XPRIZE-conducted survey. Those common barriers to use included: fogging of glasses, getting too hot, being uncomfortable, causing breathing difficulties, making conversations challenging, prohibiting exercise while wearing, causing pain or not fitting properly, blocking facial expressions, preventing eating or drinking, not being eco-friendly, looking ugly or boring, and difficulty acquiring.

Winning teams were chosen, and final judging was conducted by a panel of experts that included:

  • Ashish Diwanji, president of Lydall Performance Materials
  • Brian Hovey, vice president, marketing and commercial excellence at Honeywell
  • Denise Rutherford, senior vice president - corporate affairs at 3M
  • Dr. Erik Viirre, professor at University of California San Diego’s Department of Neurosciences and director at the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination
  • Garret Gerson, CEO of Calamigos Ranch
  • Heather Hughes, group vice president/general merchandise manager seasonal, general merchandise and photo at Walgreens
  • June Ambrose, award-winning creative director, author, costume designer and celebrity stylist
  • Dr. Kimberly Prather, professor and distinguished chair in atmospheric chemistry at University of California San Diego
  • Summer Chamblin, Gen-Z entrepreneur, content creator and daughter of June Ambrose
  • Suzanne DiBianca, chief impact officer at Salesforce

Additionally, XPRIZE is pleased to share that team Novus has won the $10,000 People’s Vote Bonus Award which was open to all Next-Gen Mask Challenge top twenty-five teams. The social media-based competition asked teams to defend their design and share their best elevator pitch with their friends, families and followers on social media. Team Novus, based in India, received the most engagement across their social media channels with over 3,000 reactions and interactions on the posts that featured their elevator pitch explaining their design.

"We are absolutely thrilled to be the winners of the Next-Gen Mask Challenge, and are extremely grateful to XPRIZE and all of the incredible sponsors and partners of this event,” said Nikhil Dave of Luminosity Lab. “Since COVID-19 first hit our community in March, we have sought out every way in which we can help - whether it be through crowdsourcing 3D-printed PPE, developing sterilization systems for N95 masks, or even designing our own next-generation mask. We can’t wait to continue pushing to support our global community in every way possible and are absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to continue this work with the support and encouragement of XPRIZE.”

“We congratulate the winners of the competition,” said Jim Cramer, the host of Mad Money on CNBC. “When we started this journey, we wanted to create awareness among young people for the need to wear masks. We are gratified to have so many entries from around the world. Now the hard work begins as our young champions set out to develop these masks into ones that will be demonstrated to be effective and can be worn around the globe to try to stop the spread of COVID-19.”

“Wearing a mask is one of the most important steps we can take in defeating this pandemic,” said Marc Benioff. “The XPRIZE Next-Gen Mask Challenge has unleashed the talent of some of the most incredible young innovators who are eager to help create a healthier future for us all.”

Teams will receive their winnings within sixty days and will work independently as they choose to finalize their prototypes utilizing the insight provided throughout the competition and final feedback from the judges. Those interested in following along can do so at xprize.org/mask, theluminositylab.com, teampolair.com and teamnaijaforce.com.ng. For additional information on XPRIZE, please visit www.xprize.org.

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 and the $5 Million XPRIZE Rapid Reskilling. For more information, visit xprize.org.

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Loren O’Neill/Full Picture/303.908.3302

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