Intuitive Surgical Technology Research Grants

Intuitive Surgical is pleased to announce the availability of funding to support Technology Research Grants in 2019.

Overview: The purpose of these grants is to support technology research in the field of surgical robotics, or related fields. Successful proposals will address clinically-relevant technology development. Grants will be awarded to researchers at non-profit academic institutions worldwide. Awards will be conferred on a competitive basis by submission of a grant application.

Available Grants: Applicants may apply for $10,000 to $50,000 of funding per project (US Dollars, total costs). The grant monies can be used to fund salaries, equipment, supplies and/or travel required to support the proposed research project for a period of up to one year.  

We have identified key research areas of interest for the 2019 technology grant program. Principal Investigators are encouraged, although not required to submit proposals that fall into one or more of the Grant Categories:

Instruments and Accessories: Research focused on instruments and accessories (I&A) that, together with a robotic surgical system, enable surgeons to deliver improved therapy for better treatment of patients. Examples may include:

  • Innovative materials, architectures, or designs for improved surgical instrument or accessories
  • Innovative clinical applications of I&A technology for improved treatment options
  • Adaptation of emerging technologies, or novel integration of existing technologies to address clinical or practical limitations of current instruments and accessories

Intelligent Systems: Research focused on new technologies or algorithms that improve the capabilities of da Vinci systems based on data-driven models of the surgeon, the da Vinci system, and/or the environment. Examples may include:

  • Algorithms that generate contextual knowledge of a procedure (such as the clinical scenario, anatomical maps, surgeon performance, etc.) based on video and/or system data.
  • Technologies that utilize contextual knowledge to shape system behavior, improve workflow, or optimize surgeon performance.

Navigation and Guidance: Research focused on developing technology to improve surgical outcomes by navigation and guidance solutions. Examples may include:

  • Technology that improves surgical outcomes via navigation, image guidance, enhanced visualization/rendering or augmented reality.
  • Cloud-based solutions to intraoperative guidance.
  • Machine learning solutions to surgical scene understanding and decision making.
  • Algorithms and technology focused on supervised automation of surgical subtasks.

Novel System Architecture: Exploration of novel system-level concepts for robot-assisted intervention. Examples may include:

  • Architectures that focus on enabling new clinical applications.
  • System configurations that improve upon existing procedures by accessing the anatomy in novel ways for clinical, workflow, or economic benefit.

Training Technologies: Research focused on developing and testing computerized hardware and software to train or evaluate the technical skills required by members of a da Vinci surgical team. Examples may include:

  • Technology that assesses proficiency of the team during draping, docking, and other tasks at the patient side cart.
  • Technology that provides real-time feedback on technical skills to a surgeon during a procedure.

User Interface / Controls: Pursue research on methods that augment human-in-the-loop perception, decision-making and control when performing minimally invasive surgical tasks.

  • Enhancements to the surgeon console that afford greater situational awareness of the endoscopic space and robot configuration while preserving immersion.
  • Methods that increase surgeon autonomy and reduce dependence on skilled bedside assistance

Vision: Research focused on developing and testing imaging hardware and software to augment surgeon knowledge about anatomy, tissue or disease state. Examples may include:

  • Technology that informs about cancer margins, tissue perfusion, or nerve locations.
  • Technology that can provide insight into the physiologic state of organs or other tissue.

Selection Process:  Applicants must first submit a Letter of Intent to propose (LOI), as detailed below. Grant LOIs will be reviewed and ranked by an internal selection committee. Those pre-proposals meeting a predetermined scoring threshold will be invited to submit a full grant application (not exceeding 10 pages, excluding bibliography and references). All invited full grant applications will be reviewed and scored based on the following criteria:

  • Clarity of research goals and objectives.
  • Novelty and innovation.
  • Clinical relevance and value.
  • Evidence of feasibility.
  • Strength of evaluation methods and measures.
  • Availability of required resources.

Letters of intent and full grant proposals will be handled in a confidential manner and will not be distributed beyond the grant selection committee at Intuitive Surgical. Due to the expected volume of proposals, we regret that the committee will not be able to provide detailed individualized feedback for unsuccessful proposals.

Letter of Intent Guidelines: A two-page letter of intent to propose should be submitted by all grant applicants. Submissions will consist of 5 parts:

  • Summary: one or two sentence proposal overview.
  • Clinical Motivation and Relevance.
  • Specific Aims / Hypothesis for the Research (not more than 500 words) for the project.
  • Summary of Planned Methods
  • Relevant Research Team Experience: Indicate the identities, capabilities and credentials of investigators as well as any participating institution.
  • Budget: Include a rough project budget that includes estimated costs for staff, equipment, consumables, and other direct costs. Applicants can request up to $50,000 in total costs, with no more than 20% of this total constituting indirect costs.

Click here to submit a letter of intent on-line for the Technology Research Grant.


  • We are asking interested applicants to submit a Letter of Intent by June 11, 2018. Invitations to submit full grant applications will be sent by July 27, 2018 (this invite will include proposal guidelines and forms).
  • The deadline for submitting a full, invited grant application is September 14, 2018. Only complete application packets will be considered. Awardees will be notified by October 29, 2018. Grant monies must be used to support research expenses during the 2019 calendar year.

Grant Conditions:

  • Intuitive strongly encourages institutions who have not previously received funding from the company to apply.
  • Multiple grants will not be funded simultaneously to any Principal Investigator.
  • Multiple grants to the same institution for different principal investigators will be considered.
  • Awards must be used to fund research at academic institutions. Grants are not to be used to fund for-profit activities.
  • Grant monies must be used to support research expenses during the 2019 calendar year only.
  • Total costs may include no more than 20% indirect costs and the total budget, including both direct costs, indirect costs and any applicable taxes, should not exceed $50,000 USD.
  • In the case of technology development, IP terms and conditions may require a negotiated agreement.
  • Grantees will be invited to present their work at our headquarters in Sunnyvale, CA (travel costs covered by Intuitive Surgical).
  • All applicants selected to receive a grant are required to submit a one-page mid-year progress report, as well as a final status report that details study results and conclusions. If the funded project does not take place, all monies awarded will be refunded to Intuitive Surgical. If the project is terminated early then a partial refund, with an accounting of the funds expended up to the termination date, will be provided by the Principal Investigator. Any unused funds as of 31 December 2019 will be refunded to Intuitive Surgical.

To submit a letter of intent, use our on-line application process 
Click here to submit a letter of intent on-line for the Technology Research Grant.

Please email, with questions regarding the grant process. If you do not have email access, please send a hardcopy of your letter of intent to:

Dale Bergman
Manager, Research Programs
Intuitive Surgical, Inc.
1266 Kifer Road
Sunnyvale, CA,
U.S.A.  94086