The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is looking for new innovations in round 11 of it “Grand Challenges Explorations” initiative. And one of the areas that they want to improve is contraception – specifically the condom.
Basically, the project looks to develop a better, more enjoyable condom so that people will be more apt to use it – thus preventing unwanted pregnancies and tons of STIs including HIV.
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.
People have been using condoms for hundreds of years, and the condom that we know and
love tolerate today hasn’t really been improved upon in five decades. That’s a problem, according to the Gates Foundations.
“Material science and our understanding of neurobiology has undergone revolutionary transformation in the last decade yet that knowledge has not been applied to improve the product attributes of one of the most ubiquitous and potentially underutilized products on earth,” they argue.
And it’s relatively easy to develop and get better condoms out on the market. Condoms using new materials can be prototyped quickly and easily, and huge clinical trials aren’t really necessary. Plus, there’s already plenty of distribution channels and a marking niche already built in.
“To overcome persistent health and development problems, we need new, game-changing ideas,” said Chris Wilson, Director of Global Health Discovery & Translational Science at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “Inspiration can come from anywhere and we are hopeful that this new round of Grand Challenges Explorations will uncover innovative approaches to improve lives around the world.”
The Gates Foundation says that initial grants for selected projects will be $100,000, and there’s a chance that they could receive up to $1,000,000 in additional funding.
If you have a idea, you can file your proposal here.
[Image via Paul Keller, Flickr]