How can we improve the ergonomics for Ear, Nose and Throat Surgeons while performing Endoscopic Ear Surgery?

Challenge Background

Ear surgery has been performed using an operating microscope since the 1950s, but improvements in endoscope and video technology have made Endoscopic Ear Surgery (EES) a viable alternative.  An ear endoscope for EES allows doctors to perform complex operations on the tiny, delicate structures in the middle ear. This method is less invasive than the traditional way to perform an ear surgery, which is to make an incision behind the ear. The doctor then uses a straight endoscope to see into the ear.

EES procedures last on average for 60 to 90 minutes, but can be as long as 180 minutes. These prolonged periods of holding the endoscope up, whilst performing very fine, controlled movements with the instruments within a very small, delicate organ causes significant musculoskeletal stress. It is possible that these conditions, which are particular to EES, are related to the higher levels of Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) in otological surgeons.

Reducing the musculoskeletal load through better work practices could reduce the time taken for surgery, reduce staff levels of MSDs and associated sickness, thereby improving workflow. They may also increase the number of operations possible and reduce the time under anaesthesia for patients.


Challenge details

We are looking to identify, develop and demonstrate near market ready innovative solutions that could:

  • Improve ergonomics for surgeons ensuring equality and benefits for all;
  • Improve ergonomics for both right and left handed surgeons, when performing surgery;
  • Reduce time spent holding an unsupported endoscope during EES;
  • Reduce surgery times;
  • Reduce MSDs in ENT surgeons;
  • Reduce sickness of ENT surgeons;
  • Improve self-reported discomfort levels of ENT surgeons after performing EES;
  • Meet infection prevention control standards; and
  • Provide a cost effective and sustainable solution.


Out of Scope

  • Replacement of current endoscope equipment or theatre beds;
  • Single use solutions.

We need ideas that can be rapidly developed and tested with potential to be scaled and used across the UK over the coming months, key dates are listed below:

Phase 1 ActivityKey Dates **subject to change **
Open Date – Phase 118/11/2022
Briefing event30/11/2022
Close Date12 noon 14/12/2022
Meet and Greet with Suppliersw/c 19/12/2022
Applicants notifiedw/c 19/12/2022
Phase 1 Contracts awardedw/c 19/12/2022
FeedbackEarly January 2023
Projects CommenceEarly January 2023
Projects Complete31/03/2023

*** Please note dates are subject to change **


Challenge phases structure

Phase 1: Development and testing – We are looking to fund up to 5 projects up to a value of £20,000 (inclusive of VAT) each for Phase 1.

Please note any adoption and implementation of a solution from this competition would be subject of a separate, possible competitive, procurement exercise. This competition does not cover the purchase of any solution although we may choose to investigate and explore innovative procurement routes as part of this challenge.

The total funding available for the competition can change. The funders have the right to:

  • adjust the provisional funding allocation; and
  • apply a ‘portfolio’ approach.


Briefing Event

Please follow the link below and register your interest for the virtual Briefing Event held on 30 November 2022:

SBRI Health Programme 2022-2024 – Briefing Event


Further information

For more information on this competition, visit: Simply Do

For any enquiries about this competition e-mail:


This competition has ended.