Frequently Asked Questions

Please refer to the following Q&A to support your Discovery Award application

Apply for a Discovery Award!

Deadline: 11 November 2020

Application Format / Preliminary Information

1. How can a team highlight in their application that there are co-Principal Investigators (PI) for their project? 

Please add the name of the second co-PI in parentheses next to the PI name.

2. Is there a specific format or template for submitting the application?

Please refer to the pdf template application form as guidance. To start your application please follow the following link, here.

*To continue an application that is in progress or view your past applications please use this link


3. Can the Sponsor Institute be based in a high-income country while doing work in a lower-income or middle-income country (LMIC)?

If the Principal Investigators are based in a LMIC(s), and are in control of both the direction of the work, and the spending of the funding, this is acceptable.

4. What is meant by the ‘Sponsor Institute’?

Some applicants may not have a formal organisational structure and may want to list a ‘Sponsor Institute’ on their application. A Sponsor Institute is an organization that can receive and manage grant/donor funding on behalf of the team. It is not a requirement of the application process to have a  Sponsor Institute. If the team lead is from an academic institution or a teaching hospital that already has a history of receiving and managing larger grants, there is no need to partner with a Sponsor Institute.

Please review the Terms and Conditions for the Challenge here for more information.

5. Can a team submit two different applications?

As per our Terms and Conditions there is no rule that prevents a team from applying with two different ideas, however we would strongly encourage applicants to submit just one application by choosing the idea that better fulfils the criteria of the Challenge.

6. Who can submit an application? 

Any team member can submit an application, but the Principal Investigator and their institution needs to be based in a LMIC. 

7. Can a team lead be based in a high-income country while belonging to an institution in a low-income or middle-income country?

Yes, if for example the team lead is currently on secondment, but the team lead’s substantive post must be at an institution in a LMIC.

8. Can teams utilise an institution in a high-income country to receive the Discovery Award?  

The institution that receives the grant should be based in a low-income or middle-income country. However, team’s are able to partner with an institution in a high-income country to receive and manage the Discovery Award should their home institution be unable to do so.

9. Would partnering with a private company reduce a team’s chances of securing a Discovery Award? 

It will depend on the role of the private company. As long as the private company has no objection to the surgical training module being available open source and the lead institution is based in a LMIC, the makeup of the team can include both academic institutions and private companies.

Innovation and Impact

10. Are submissions targeting procedures that are in a formative or evolving regulatory status allowed?

We consider the open source surgical training modules to be an educational tool and as such they are independent of any particular scope of practice or regulatory status. The procedure the module aims to teach will be judged on the impact it will have on global public health.

11. What would a successful self-assessment framework look like?

Competitors in the Challenge are asked to create self-assessment frameworks that allow surgical practitioners the ability to practice and test their own skills acquisition outside of a classroom. The self-assessment can use  a visual-, audio- or a materials -based way of assessing that a practitioner is physically performing the key aspects of a certain procedure in a way that can be translated into clinical settings.

12. Can teams use 3D printing? 

Yes, teams can use 3D printing if that would be the most effective way to do the hands on aspect of the procedure. 

13. Are teams required to have prototypes that include both hardware and software?

No, the use of both hardware and software is not a requirement. 

14. If we are using a physical simulator, is it compulsory to submit evidence of the proposed physical simulator, for example, as an image?

If the simulator doesn’t exist at this stage, applicants don’t need to create it prior to submitting the application. Applicants are only expected to build a simulator in the Discovery phase. Applicants can include a concept sketch, image or a commercial design that already exists, but this is not a prerequisite.

Adoption and Reproducibility

15. What is meant by the ‘end user’?

The end user is the individual that will use the module and learn from it.

16. What is meant by module reproducibility?

All the submitted surgical modules must be reproducible in their chosen setting. The Challenge requires handover documentation to demonstrate how the end user will successfully replicate the training module and how this module will be adapted to users’ needs.

17. Can you give an example of risks associated with the reproducibility of the training module?

One example is the assumption of ‘universal accessibility of material’. If a team relies on material that is locally available to them and they make the assumption that it is locally available globally, then people in different regions may experience difficulty reproducing the module, or being able to do the training.

18. Once the competition is completed, can the surgical modules be further developed and built upon?

Yes, because the surgical training modules are hosted on an open-source platform, they can be further developed and built upon.

19. Given the three rounds of elimination of the competition, at what point does the surgical module become shared Intellectual Property (IP)?

All successful Discovery Award applicants are expected to abide by the shared IP and make all their material available on a public platform.

20. Can a virtual reality environment be used to teach psychomotor skills? 

Yes, but the proposal will need to address if there is evidence that the type of VR environment being created can produce transferable physical skills. The modules created should focus on the acquisition of one or more of the psychomotor skills needed to deliver a critical step of a specific surgical procedure.

21. Is having expensive hardware a disadvantage?

Having expensive hardware for generating content will not be penalised if the content can be delivered in an accessible way. The Challenge recommends stating in the application the way the surgical module is going to be used in low-resource environments. 

22. Will modules qualify as open source despite requiring the user to purchase a piece of hardware (e.g. mobile phone, sensor etc.)? 

Yes, modules will qualify as open source as long as the software and all the related material is freely available to download on the platform. It’s acceptable if the user needs to purchase commercially available equipment.

23. Who owns the module on the open source platform? 

Similarly to the Creative Commons license, the teams will retain ownership of the intellectual content, but make it free to use under certain circumstances. The goal is that surgical educators develop high quality content so that other people are able to use it and build upon it. 

24. Are there any restrictions on publishing projects in academic journals?

There are no restrictions on publishing the projects.

Team’s Capability

Are teams expected to develop models by themselves, or can they partner or sub-contract?

Teams  can subcontract or partner with other organisations as long as the surgical modules are made freely available on the online Global Surgical Training Community platform.

Is it a problem if the team lead is from a country in which sanctions have been imposed against specific senior officials, but the sanctions do not contain the intended institution or individual on the project?

Applicants can address this in their proposal (in the Preliminary Information: Team Lead/ Key Team Roles section) explaining the sanctions that are in place.

Does the Challenge offer any mentorship or programme management support? 

All Discovery Award winners will be offered mentorship.

Is there a maximum number of participants that can be included in a team? 

There is no limitation on the number of members in a team as long as the team fulfils the Eligibility Criteria

How many team members should be based in a LMIC?

The team lead must be from a LMIC and the Challenge encourages as many team members to be from a country the innovation is designed for, but it’s not a prerequisite for the Challenge. The team lead (principal investigator) should  be in control of both the direction of work and spending of the funding.

Can an individual be involved in two proposals or provide support for multiple teams?

An individual can be in more than one team.

Development Plan and Budget

The local price of imported equipment often differs from the price in the United States. What price should be included in the budget breakdown of the application? 

Applicants should provide the local cost of materials and equipment converted into US dollars. 

How will funds be dispersed? 

The Discovery Award grant contract will be tailored for each group with a proportion of funds being given in advance and then additional funds on key milestones. 

Can the money in the budget go across international lines?

As long as the team structure is set up in a way that it’s apparent it is driven by the needs of an institution in a LMIC, then how the funds are distributed is up to the project team.

Should the budget go to the development of hardware or software?

The budget can be used for both the development of hardware and software, as long as it is specified in the proposal. 

Are there any restrictions on salary contributions or what the money can be spent on? 

The Challenge is not prescriptive about what the money can be spent on as long as the applicants can demonstrate a reasonable road map of achieving the common goal of the Challenge.

Should there be a budget for travel?

Due to the current circumstances with COVID-19, the Challenge recommends planning for virtual engagement only.

Can journal article fees be included in the budget? 

If publishing a journal article is a key part of driving people to use the surgical training module then it would be considered part of creating impact for the module. 

Are unused funds returned?

Teams must return to the Intuitive Foundation any funds not expended or committed for the purposes of the grant within the grant period.  Intuitive Foundation retains the right to monitor the use of grant proceeds and to rescind any grant amounts and recover any unused funds to the extent they are not being used for proper purposes.