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

Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board and other Health Boards across Wales are looking for innovative solutions that can improve the ergonomics for Ear Nose and Throat Surgeons while performing Endoscopic Ear Surgery.

Opportunity Details


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


NHS Wales

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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 and 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 and;
  • Single use solutions.


A virtual Briefing Event was held on 30 November 2022 from 13:00-15:00. Click the link below to view the recording from this event:

We need ideas that can be rapidly developed and tested with the potential to be scaled and used across the UK over the coming months. The deadline has been extended to 6th January 2023 – phase 1 contracts will be awarded in January.

Funding available

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

Please note any adoption and implementation of a solution from this competition would be subject to or 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.


Any organisation can submit an application, although it is expected that opportunities presented by SBRI will be particularly attractive for SMEs. SBRI is aimed at organisations working on the development of an innovative process, material, device, product or service. Successful applications will be those whose technology best addresses the specific needs identified, with the potential to make a measurable improvement to currently available products, processes materials, devices or services. All applicants must demonstrate a route to market.

If you would like help to find a collaboration partner, please contact Innovate UK KTN’s Health team.

For any enquiries about this competition please e-mail:


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