In recent years, prize challenges have become a great way for government agencies to find solutions to some of the toughest hurdles facing our nation. Crowdsourcing multiple perspectives and ideas means we’re more likely to get results that are both impactful and cost-effective, and participants can learn from each other and the official feedback they receive. It’s in this spirit of friendly innovative competition that I invite you to submit your ideas for a prize challenge from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T): The Escape Respirator Challenge.
Like our previous competitions, this challenge addresses safety and operational problems affecting homeland security officials. The Escape Respirator Challenge aims to improve escape respirators or hoods, which are personal protective equipment used to help the wearer quickly and safely evacuate from areas affected by aerosolized chemical, biological and radiological hazards. Based on feedback from DHS officials in the field, S&T has determined two main shortcomings with escape hoods currently on the market.
Lack of compact design, so the escape respirator is heavy and can’t be carried in small space, like a suit coat inner pocket.
Lack of oxygen delivery, which makes them less effective in oxygen-deficient environments.
Currently available escape hoods address one of these issues, but users need both features, a compact design and oxygen delivery system, to be better protected from threats.
I know what many of you are wondering – how much can I win? S&T will award a total cash prize pool of $250,000 for the Escape Respirator Challenge, which will be distributed over two phases. In Phase I, each of the three finalists will receive $50,000. At the end of Phase II, one winner will be awarded $100,000.
If you’re interested in participating, you’ll need to register for the challenge by Thursday, April 11, 2019 at 5 PM EST. Once you’re registered, applications are due by Thursday, May 30, 2019 at 5:00pm EST. For full details about this competition and to complete your registration, visit the Escape Respirator website.
This is a great opportunity to see if your escape hood prototype is up to the test, and I encourage you to join the competition if you think your product can address the current design shortcomings. We’ll share updates about the finalists and winner in the months following the May deadline, so be sure to follow S&T on our social media channels: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Flickr.
I also encourage you to check the S&T website for information on new prize challenges as they’re announced. We keep a list of Current Competitions in one place to make it easy for you to find the challenge that’s right for you. Best of luck to all the participants!