A Building Momentum employee wearing one of the masks.Building Momentum
- The coronavirus crisis has prompted many companies and individuals to pivot their businesses or start new companies to help those in need.
- Building Momentum, a training organization based in Alexandria, Virginia, saw its business grind to a halt when the crisis hit: Its employees couldn't travel or host in-person trainings, and it couldn't host events at its headquarters.
- The team decided to pivot to helping reduce equipment shortages, connecting with a Buffalo, New York-based team at manufacturing R&D organization EWI and embarking on a new design for a reusable filter mask.
- The teams, which have never met in person, went from an idea to a viable prototype in six days. They created a mask made from thin plastic than can be sanitized in a dishwasher and reused. The mask has an interchangeable filter, which means the user can swap in the right filter depending on their needs.
- The teams hopes the design will help "back-fill" shortages for workers who need protection on the job, but who don't necessarily require the same level of filtration that an N95 mask provides.
- The mask design hasn't been approved yet by the Food and Drug Administration, but 1,000 of the masks are currently being tested at eight Air Force bases across the country.
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Many small businesses across the country can point to a day in March when everything ground to a halt. For Virginia-based training organization Building Momentum, that day was March 11.
The company, which trains corporate clients as well as members of the US military, was hosting in-person trainings at its headquarters in Alexandria, traveling abroad for trainings, and hosting events like community gatherings, holiday parties, and weddings. As the virus spread, none of those aspects of Building Momentum's business were viable anymore.
"All of our work immediately stopped across all of our silos," Allen Brooks, chief operating officer of Building Momentum, told Business Insider. "It was completely frozen."
The company, which employs 19 people, immediately shifted its focus to figure out what it was uniquely equipped to do to help. It spawned a collaboration that stretches from Northern Virginia to Western New York, combining Building Momentum's problem-solving talent with manufacturing R&D organization EWI's technological know-how.
The partnership has resulted in a new type of reusable mask with an interchangeable filter, with the aim of alleviating personal protective equipment shortages nationwide, not just for frontline medical workers, but for any type of worker who will need protection on the job.
"A lot of N95 masks that are going, rightfully, to ICUs, but now you have all these medical procedures, and first responders and other users, that need to have access to a durable, reusable mask," Jay Long, a consultant who connected Building Momentum with the team at EWI, told Business Insider.
Here's how the project developed, and what makes the mask different from others out there. Read the original article on Business Insider