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Ideas from Unexpected Places

Have an innovative idea? Even if it's not omics-y and necessarily in your wheelhouse, that's what one grant programs is looking for. The Global Challenges this year, in response to the ongoing epidemic in West Africa, is looking for new designs for a protective suit, NPR reports.

The US Agency for International Development announced a $5 million contest earlier this week that's looking for cooler, more breathable designs for protective suits. And anyone can enter.

A previous challenge idea came from Jorge Odon, a mechanic in Argentina, who designed a way using a plastic sleeve and an air pump to help a fetus that's having trouble getting through the birth canal. His idea was inspired by a YouTube video he saw for getting a cork out of an empty wine bottle using a plastic bag.

"Part of what we try to do under this type of funding is not to incrementally advance the state of knowledge but to take a risk on new ideas," Steve Buchsbaum, who leads the Gates Foundation's Grand Challenge program, tells NPR. He notes that many of the idea won't work out, but some might.