Bill Gates, through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is offering $100,000 for someone to develop the so-called next-generation condom.
Condoms, according to Gates, save lives but are underutilized in part because men prefer sex without using them, which puts their partners disproportionately at risk for STDs and unplanned pregnancies. As part of the foundation’s Round 11 Grand Challenges Explorations initiative, the Microsoft founder is looking for someone to come up with a technologically improved condom that can address these shortcomings by making it more enjoyable to use regularly.
Beyond the initial $100,000 grant, additional funding up to $1 million for an innovative, radically different condom design that has real potential may be available. Apparently the basic condom technology has stayed the same for the past 50 years.
Here’s the background on the challenge from the Gates Foundation:
“We are looking for a Next Generation Condom that significantly preserves or enhances pleasure, in order to improve uptake and regular use. Additional concepts that might increase uptake include attributes that increase ease-of-use for male and female condoms, for example better packaging or designs that are easier to properly apply. In addition, attributes that address and overcome cultural barriers are also desired. Proposals must (i) have a testable hypothesis, (ii) include an associated plan for how the idea would be tested or validated, and (iii) yield interpretable and unambiguous data in Phase I, in order to be considered for Phase II funding.”
The winner will be selected by the Gates Foundation and an independent group of reviewers, and proposals will be accepted through May 7.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has sponsored initiatives all over the world primarily with regard to health and fighting poverty and hunger.
Do you think you could build a better condom? The initial application form for the condom proposal (as well as for four other projects) is only two pages.