Houston: Got an idea how to come up with the 'next generation condom'? You may bag upto one million dollars from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The foundation is offering $100,000 of initial funding, with up to $1 million of possible continued funding to whoever comes up with a viable proposal. Ideas for a better condom are being accepted at GrandChallenges.org.
Ideas that may prove too expensive for widespread use in the developing world, or those that doesn't do the job of preventing pregnancy or disease transmission will be dismissed right off the bat. The next-generation condom challenge is part of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's "Grand Challenges Explorations", a continuing initiative to fund programs geared toward improving the lot of the world's poorest citizens.
"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, in a statement. "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," Wilson added.
Through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and his wife work to eradicate poverty and increase access to healthcare. Founded in 1994, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is one of the largest private foundations in the world.
Now, with the $100,00 grant offered through the Grand Challenges in Global Health Program, they are hoping to find anyone - students, scientists or entrepreneurs - to reinvent the condom. "The primary drawback from the male perspective is that condoms decrease pleasure as compared to no condom. So a 'next-generation' condom would, perhaps, find some way to increase sensation to get men to use them more often purely in the name of global health, of course," says a statement describing the requirements of the challenge.
"Female condoms, meanwhile, suffer from some of the same liabilities as male condoms, require proper insertion training and are substantially more expensive than their male counterparts," says the foundation. Thus, the foundation thinks that a cheaper, simpler female condom might also help reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies and spread of sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS.