The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is offering big bucks in hopes of spurring the development of a new condom for men or women, Fox News reported.
The offer was made as part of Round 11 of the charity’s Grand Challenges Explorations Initiative, a program that seeks to help the world’s poorest people by investing in new technologies.
The organization is offering initial grants of $100,000 to the creator of a “next-generation condom,” which should avoid cultural stigmas, be easy to use and preserve sexual pleasure. If the new condom seems particularly promising, the creator can receive additional funding up to $1 million.
Male condoms are affordable, easy to use, and reliably prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), but the Grand Challenges Explorations Initiative noted the contraceptive device had a major drawback that discouraged its use: it decreased sexual pleasure. Female condoms also reliably prevent STIs and unplanned pregnancies, but are more expensive and harder to use than their male equivalents.
“Condoms have been in use for about 400 years yet they have undergone very little technological improvement in the past 50 years,” the organization explained. “The primary improvement has been the use of latex as the primary material and quality control measures which allow for quality testing of each individual condom. 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.”
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