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Exploring the challenges and hidden opportunities of hosting a virtual innovation competition in the time of COVID-19
  1. Maha El Akoum,
  2. Mahmoud El Achi
  1. Department of Content, World Innovation Summit for Health, Doha, Ad Dawhah, Qatar
  1. Correspondence to Maha El Akoum, World Innovation Summit for Health, Doha, Ad Dawhah, Qatar; melakoum{at}

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Summary box

What are the new findings?

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has put in place restrictions on travel and large, in-person, physical gatherings, making healthcare conferences and innovation competitions a challenge. Virtual conferences and innovation competitions are a viable option during the global pandemic and have proved to be successful in training, content delivery and exchange of ideas.

  • Successful, innovative mitigation strategies for holding international innovation competitions virtually during COVID-19 are centred around proper time management and adequate time allocation, limiting commitment time and providing personal and technological support when needed.

  • The switch to virtual, if properly executed, does not necessarily lead to a compromise on quality and perhaps allows for more focus on content than delivery.

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How might it impact on healthcare in the future?

  • This could potentially transform the way we organise, host and design competitions in healthcare innovation in the future. The use of a virtual platform as a mode of delivery could save money, time and resources moving forward.

  • Hosting the innovation competition virtually allowed for broader inclusion, increased opportunities for networking on a global scale and increased visibility for both product and entrepreneur.

  • Where in a physical conference only so many booth visitors could view the showcased innovations at once, when hosted virtually, an unlimited number of conference participants could view the innovation at one time and all throughout the conference, not limited to conference operating hours.

  • The virtual display of a three-dimensional model of an innovation or prototype allows for the booth visitors to view the prototype functioning in its real intended environment (eg, in an operating theatre) as opposed to seeing it physically, although static and at times inoperable, in a booth.

Introduction: World Innovation Summit for Health Innovation Programme

History and evolution of the WISH Innovators Programme

Launched in 2012, the World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) is a global health initiative of the Qatar Foundation, under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser that aims to promote and facilitate innovation in healthcare …

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  • Correction notice This article has been corrected since it was published. Figure 2 and 4 have been updated.

  • Contributors Both authors contributed to the planning, conduct and reporting of the work described. El Akoum is responsible for the overall content.

  • Funding Supported and funded by the World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH), Qatar Foundation.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.