Best Ideas 2019 features all the nominated entries submitted under ‘Submit your Idea’ category. All the entries consist of innovative solutions or propositions for an enterprise that champions the Sustainable Development Goals. They can be on the conceptual, planning, or start-up stage.
Explain your idea in details:
We believe that everyone deserves to breathe safely through innovative technology ensuring reliable and fitting masks. With air pollution being recognized as one of the top ten global health threats by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2019, it is critical for respiratory health to not be treated as a privilege but a fundamental right for everyone. Unfortunately, the prices of high quality masks range from $30 to $80, meaning that proper respiratory protection is not feasible for around half of the world population, who receive a daily income of less than $5.50. Most affordable masks, on the other hand, have 68% leakage rates of pollutants due to the issue of poor facial fit. After nine months of research, reaching out to experts, and prototyping, we came up with a $10 reusable mask that maximizes facial fit and filters out 99% of pollutants and gases: the RespirO2 Mask. Unlike regular masks, the RespirO2 Mask precisely conforms to the facial structures of its users when heat (from hot water or hair dryers, both of which are readily available to everyone) is applied. For especially those with facial disfigurements or facial hair who make up 20% of the world population, our mask helps protection from airborne diseases and pollutants become more accessible. With the RespirO2 Mask, we hope to make respiratory protection possible for everyone.
Expected impact of your idea on sustainable development
Many believe air pollution to be a recurring issue only in cities or developed countries. However, 91% of the world population lives in regions where the air quality fails to fall under the limits of WHO. In 2016, ambient air pollution resulted in more than 4.2 million deaths; among these casualties, more than 90% of air pollution-related deaths took place in low and middle-income countries. High quality masks with proper facial fit are the only source of protection from this, but effective masks are unaffordable to many. That is where the RespirO2 Mask comes in. Our mask aims to help more people more effectively protect themselves from air pollution by impacting the following two Sustainable Development Goals: Goal 3, good health and well-being, and Goal 10, reduced inequalities. Costing around $10 with $3 replaceable filters, our masks prove to be three to ten times more affordable long-term compared to other high quality masks; this opens the door for many middle to low income families when it comes to respiratory protection. Not only would the RespirO2 Mask benefit anyone living in polluted regions, it would considerably help the 1 billion and 39 million with significant facial disfigurements and facial hair in the Asia-Pacific region who would otherwise suffer from less compatible masks and pollution-caused diseases. Our primary measures of success would be the number of distributor sponsors, the number of consumers purchasing our product, and the coverage of severely polluted countries when it comes to international retail. From 2020 to 2025, our targets include conducting product tests, obtaining a design patent, increasing awareness about our product, and gradually expanding our retail internationally from South Korea. Ultimately, we want to accommodate as many people living in heavily polluted regions around the world as possible.
Plans for implementation and sustainability
The objective of RespirO2 Mask is to make respiratory health non-discriminatory. Fortunately, since 2013, the global dust mask market has been expanding, projected to reach the $4 billion mark by 2022; this boosts the chances of the RespirO2 Mask being financially sustainable and profitable. Our solution is cost-effective as well; rather than spending thousands of dollars on electricity and machines to produce masks in many sizes, we only need a single central design that more accurately accommodates varying facial structures, while significantly reducing production costs. Chicago Business Management has also verified our calculations for sustainability and has agreed to fund us. As of now, our masks cost $4.88 to produce and are priced at $10.18. Our plan to establish beneficiary channels include free social media marketing provided by the skills-based volunteering program Moving Worlds and partnerships with volunteer-abroad programs that will reduce transportation costs. Our prospective distributor sponsors include Amazon, Dream Depot, Dream Office, and many more. Also, selling at cheaper prices to NGOs such as the Sierra Club would increase profit without retail fees and ensure steady sales. Through Sierra Club, even if only 1 in every 10 members hands out one mask, we will benefit 55,000 people in need. First, future development would include achieving necessary health standard-certifications and conducting product efficiency/comfort tests in the first year. After ensuring that the final design of our product is optimal, we would be renting and forming a machine line to more efficiently produce and distribute RespirO2 Masks. We can fully purchase this after reaching our breakeven and create an online shop to expand our customer base. For implementing RespirO2, we plan to first expand within South Korea, then reach out to international retail companies. By monitoring web traffic of our online shop, we can also plan future expansion.
After noticing stroke patients struggling with the facial fit of their dust masks at a senior care center in South Korea, we knew that something needed to change. At first, we Googled if there were any affordable dust masks maximizing facial fit that we could recommend to them, but we couldn't find any. Through conducting some research and interviews, we realized that poor facial fit affects not only those with facial disfigurements, but also practically everyone who wears masks, as most masks have a large leakage rate due to poor facial fit. As 17-year-old students passionate about entrepreneurship and science, we took it upon ourselves to create the RespirO2 Mask. Though we're only high schoolers and we're relatively new to the entrepreneurial world, we still have successful experiences in gaining recognition, receiving funding, and reaching out to incubators. In the spring of 2019, the RespirO2 Mask was selected as one of the top nine social innovation entries in the Diamond Challenge, the biggest entrepreneurship-concept competition for high schoolers. Recently, we also became finalists for the Paradigm Challenge. Through the experience of meeting other like-minded student leaders and entrepreneurs at these competitions and conferences, we were inspired to further generate solutions to problems we observe around us and develop our entrepreneurial skills. Sarah, a student advisory board member of the Diamond Challenge and a research student, reached out to start-up incubators and different organizations to conduct comfort tests and marketing surveys. Angela's great interest in molecular biology and chemistry allowed her to research more about forming a combination of effective filters. Miru took the lead in product design to help in building a functional and appealing prototype. Together, we aim to improve respiratory health globally without leaving a single person out of touch with respiratory protection.