Bill Gates wants to help combat the spread of HIV and AIDS by creating a start-up grant worth $100,000 to anyone who can design the next generation condom.
The grant is being offered through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation asking inventors to come up with a more effective condom. They are looking for something “that significantly preserves or enhances pleasure” and promotes “regular use.”
The problem is not the lack of condoms available, but with 34 million people in the world already living with HIV according to the 2012 UNAIDS World AIDS Day Report, the foundation says people are often reluctant to use them. People believe condoms reduce the pleasure and are seen as a sign that a man has AIDS, and many women won’t sleep with such men.
“Male condoms are cheap, easy to manufacture, easy to distribute, and available globally, including in resource-poor settings, through numerous well-developed distribution channels,” the foundation says, adding that condoms that take away from pleasure create “a trade-off that many men find unacceptable.”
Anyone can submit a proposal, and the foundation encouraged inventors to think about new materials, designs or shapes that could make sex more pleasurable for men and women.
The challenge states that condoms have been in use for around 400 years, and have not improved in the past 50 years. However, the scientific advances made in the past 50 years have not been applied to this area.
“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. New concept designs with new materials can be prototyped and tested quickly. Large-scale human clinical trials are not required. Manufacturing capacity, marketing, and distribution channels are already in place,” Gates writes.
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.
A few examples of work that would be considered for funding:
- Application of safe new materials that may preserve or enhance sensation;
- Development and testing of new condom shapes/designs that may provide an improved user experience;
- Application of knowledge from other fields (e.g. neurobiology, vascular biology) to new strategies for improving condom desirability.
The foundation will not consider:
- Exclusively non-technological, social, or educational interventions;
- Testing of existing commercially available products;
- Proposals without a clearly articulated hypothesis or plan for testing the proposed product’s value in overcoming adherence issues;
- Concepts that are inherently too expensive for a developing world setting;
- Concepts that would sacrifice the value of condoms for prevention of either unplanned pregnancy or HIV infection.
A panel of five reviewers will be judging the proposals, and several ideas could be awarded the six-figure sum. The start-up grant could later lead to $1 million in further funding.
Bill Gates Offers 100k For Best Condom Ever
Bill Gates’ latest charitable contribution in the field of public health: $100,000 to the inventor of a condom that actually feels good. Grand Challenges in Global Health, a research foundation established by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is offering the grant money for the best “testable hypothesis” for “the next generation condom,” one that “significantly preserves or enhances pleasure.”
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