“5 billion people in the world don’t have access to safe surgery,” as reported by The Lancet  in their Global Surgery Report 2030.

While patient outcomes in surgery have improved over the past decade – driven by better materials, implant designs, and surgical techniques – major obstacles remain to be addressed. Surgical patients still experience major discrepancies in success, including a 20-40% rate of failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS) according to the NCBI.   And with a rapidly aging world population – expected to grow from just over 900 million to nearly 1.5 billion between 2015 and 2030 according to Forbes – the stakes are higher than ever before. 

Inconsistencies in surgical training and high rates of burnout  among orthopedic surgeons are some of the factors contributing to variations in patients outcomes.  At the same time, the high financial burden of associated with pre-, intra-, and post-surgery are being compounded by rising patient demand . The current model is unsustainable as analyzed in the Projection of Surgical Loads of Hip and Knee report[1].

Fortunately, tremendous opportunity awaits. Advancing technology can lead the industry to drastic improvements, a digital ecosystem where technologies enhance surgical performance, help educate surgeons, and guide patients through to full recovery. This digital ecosystem will amplify the surgeon’s ability through personalization, automation, and improved procedural efficiency throughout the continuum of care so that we reduce variability and help improve outcomes. 

The potential of digitally enabled technologies is significant, but we believe that existing solutions are not optimal especially in the area of robotics. Current robotics are large and complicated; they slow procedures down without improving accuracy; they require dedicated support, intensive training and cannot easily be shared between operating rooms or surgeons. 

That’s why Johnson & Johnson Medical Korea Ltd. in collaboration with Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) and Korea Health Industry Development Institute (KHIDI) are launching the Seoul Innovation QuickFire Challenge: Robotics & Digital Surgery. Up to two winning robotics and surgical solutions will receive up to KRW 150,000,000 (~$134,000)*, entrance to the Seoul Bio Hub, one year of mentorship and coaching, and access to the JLABS global entrepreneurial community.

[1] Gaiser S, Kapoun M. Projection of Surgical Loads of Hip and Knee. Heraeus Medical GmbH, Wehrheim, Germany; Hochschule Niederrhein, Krefeld, Germany

Areas of Interest

We encourage applications from innovators working on all aspects of robotics and digital health related to surgery.  Here’s what we mean: 

  • Patient Engaging Apps
  • Sensors/Wearables
  • Pre-surgery prep/prehab
  • Surgical Decision Support
  • Visualization
  • Robotics
  • Self-Enabled Rehab
  • Health Care or Patient Data Analytics

Why this challenge matters to us

We believe a good idea can come from anywhere, and it’s our goal to find new and innovative technologies that provide solutions to patients from across the world. Working together, we can spark the next great idea that will change the trajectory of health.


  • August 13th, 2018: Applications Open
  • October 5th, 2018: Application Deadline
  • November 14th, 2018: Winner Announcement at Seoul BioMedical International Conference