Launch of the Global Surgical Training Challenge to drive innovation in surgical simulation training for low resource settings

15 Jul 2020

Intuitive Foundation, Nesta Challenges & MIT Solve announced today the launch of the Global Surgical Training Challenge, a contest designed to find innovative ways to develop lower cost, validated, simulation-based surgical training. The global challenge calls on innovators to develop surgical training modules that can be used in low-resource settings to help teach practitioners surgical procedures and techniques.

“A typical teaching module is resource-intensive and expensive,” says Caroline Purslow, Challenge Manager, Nesta Challenges. “We hope the Global Surgical Training Challenge will encourage innovators to develop easily replicable modules that can be used in a variety of settings.”

The Challenge consists of three phases spread over 2 years, with a purse of $5 million.

Phase I will end in December 2020 when 10 teams receive grants, called Discovery Awards, of up to $200,000 each to develop and test early prototype modules. Up to five of those teams will compete in Phase II for the Finalist Awards—grants of up to $500,000 distributed at the end of 2021. The Grand Prize of $1 million will be awarded in 2022 to the team with the most fully developed prototype module that the judges believe will have the most impact through additional development.

Winning modules will be part of an online open-source platform accessible by surgical practitioners. The modules will be free to download and inexpensive to reproduce in a variety of global settings. In addition, winning modules will have been appropriately validated.

The Global Surgical Training Challenge is open to surgical practitioners, clinicians, medical educators, technologists, engineers, designers, artists, and other creatives. Teams or individuals are encouraged to participate in a series of interactive, and virtual Solveathon workshops, hosted by MIT Solve. The Solveathon workshops are “virtual, high energy events designed to build teams and strengthen their applications for the Global Surgical Training Challenge.” says Patrick Diamond, Strategic Partnerships Manager at MIT Solve.

“We envision helping to create a new paradigm for surgical training that delivers simulation-based training at a lower cost to resource-constrained settings, and allows surgical practitioners the opportunity to practice and enhance their skills outside of a teacher-led lab or classroom,” says Catherine Mohr, President, Intuitive Foundation.

Teams and individuals who are interested in participating in the Challenge can sign up for a virtual Solveathon workshop in their region by going to the Challenge website.

About Nesta Challenges

Nesta Challenges designs and runs challenge prizes that help solve pressing problems that lack solutions. We shine a spotlight where it matters and incentivise people to solve these issues.

About MIT Solve

Solve is an initiative of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with a mission to solve world challenges. Solve is a marketplace for social impact innovation. Through open innovation Challenges, Solve finds incredible tech-based social entrepreneurs all around the world. Solve then brings together MIT’s innovation ecosystem and a community of Members to fund and support these entrepreneurs to help them drive lasting, transformational impact.

 About Intuitive Foundation

The Intuitive Foundation is dedicated to reducing the global burden of disease and suffering through philanthropy, research and education aimed at better outcomes for patients everywhere.


Caroline Purslow, Challenge Manager, Nesta Challenges, 07595697674