New York Times (11.20.2013)
The New York Times reported Wednesday that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced the 11 winners of its Next Generation Condom contest. The contest, designed to prevent STDs and unwanted pregnancies by developing a condom that men would use regularly, garnered more than 800 applications. Winners each received $100,000 and could receive up to $1 million after the development of their ideas.
Entries came from around the globe, including a condom manufacturer in India and British design consultants whose prior work included vacuum cleaners, said Steven Buchsbaum, a Gates Foundation official. Ideas focused on either enhancing or preserving pleasure or on making it easier to put on. “In sub-Saharan Africa, sex is basically done with low light and it might be very difficult to see the direction of the condom,” said Dr. Papa Salif Sow, a Gates senior program officer.
Materials proposed for use included latex, reconstituted collagen, polyethylene plastic, polyurethane, beef tendons, and fish skin. Ideas ranged from “shape memory” to mold instantly to a specific man, pull tabs, and a condom that would “[cling] like Saran Wrap rather than squeeze.”
Gates Foundation Program Officer Stephen Ward said that the problems tackled included “improving lubrication, internal friction, external friction, [and] heat transfer.” Two or more grantees might be teamed to make one design, he added. “There’s not one magic bullet,” he said. “The idea is making [condoms] easier for people to use in the moment, in the dark, whatever situation they’re in.”