Exploring Novel Innovation Strategies to Close a Technology Gap in Neurosurgery: HORAO Crowdsourcing Campaign.

Schucht, Philippe; Mathis, Andrea Maria; Murek, Michael; Zubak, Irena; Goldberg, Johannes; Falk, Stephanie; Raabe, Andreas (2023). Exploring Novel Innovation Strategies to Close a Technology Gap in Neurosurgery: HORAO Crowdsourcing Campaign. Journal of medical internet research, 25, e42723. JMIR Publications 10.2196/42723

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Scientific research is typically performed by expert individuals or groups who investigate potential solutions in a sequential manner. Given the current worldwide exponential increase in technical innovations, potential solutions for any new problem might already exist, even though they were developed to solve a different problem. Therefore, in crowdsourcing ideation, a research question is explained to a much larger group of individuals beyond the specialist community to obtain a multitude of diverse, outside-the-box solutions. These are then assessed in parallel by a group of experts for their capacity to solve the new problem. The 2 key problems in brain tumor surgery are the difficulty of discerning the exact border between a tumor and the surrounding brain, and the difficulty of identifying the function of a specific area of the brain. Both problems could be solved by a method that visualizes the highly organized fiber tracts within the brain; the absence of fibers would reveal the tumor, whereas the spatial orientation of the tracts would reveal the area's function. To raise awareness about our challenge of developing a means of intraoperative, real-time, noninvasive identification of fiber tracts and tumor borders to improve neurosurgical oncology, we turned to the crowd with a crowdsourcing ideation challenge.


Our objective was to evaluate the feasibility of a crowdsourcing ideation campaign for finding novel solutions to challenges in neuroscience. The purpose of this paper is to introduce our chosen crowdsourcing method and discuss it in the context of the current literature.


We ran a prize-based crowdsourcing ideation competition called HORAO on the commercial platform HeroX. Prize money previously collected through a crowdfunding campaign was offered as an incentive. Using a multistage approach, an expert jury first selected promising technical solutions based on broad, predefined criteria, coached the respective solvers in the second stage, and finally selected the winners in a conference setting. We performed a postchallenge web-based survey among the solvers crowd to find out about their backgrounds and demographics.


Our web-based campaign reached more than 20,000 people (views). We received 45 proposals from 32 individuals and 7 teams, working in 26 countries on 4 continents. The postchallenge survey revealed that most of the submissions came from single solvers or teams working in engineering or the natural sciences, with additional submissions from other nonmedical fields. We engaged in further exchanges with 3 out of the 5 finalists and finally initiated a successful scientific collaboration with the winner of the challenge.


This open innovation competition is the first of its kind in medical technology research. A prize-based crowdsourcing ideation campaign is a promising strategy for raising awareness about a specific problem, finding innovative solutions, and establishing new scientific collaborations beyond strictly disciplinary domains.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Head Organs and Neurology (DKNS) > Clinic of Neurosurgery

UniBE Contributor:

Schucht, Philippe, Mathis, Andrea Maria, Murek, Michael Konrad, Zubak, Irena, Goldberg, Johannes, Raabe, Andreas


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health




JMIR Publications




Pubmed Import

Date Deposited:

01 May 2023 12:38

Last Modified:

07 May 2023 02:26

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Mueller polarimetry collective intelligence crowdsourcing fiber tracts ideation neuroscience neurosurgery open innovation polarization





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