Superior mousetraps have their public health benefits, but they’ve got nothing on condoms. Reinventing the modest but life-saving device (some 15 billion are produced each year) is among the latest round of “Grand Challenges Explorations,” an initiative of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has previously thrown its substantial resources behind design-minded projects such as rethinking the toilet and, in parternship with IDEO, a human-centered approach to poverty-related challenges. Grand Challenges Explorations is ready to award $100,000 grants to anyone–students, scientists, entrepreneurs–with a transformative condom idea:
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 entry process is as streamlined and agile as the grant-making program itself: simply complete the two-page online application. Puzzled by prophylactics? Check out the other new Grand Challenges topics, which include increasing interoperability of social good data and labor-saving innovations for women smallholder farmers.