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Essilor and NineSigma Announce Open Innovation Challenge to Improve Access to Vision Care in Underserved Populations

Jul 6, 2016 | CLEVELAND, OH
Up to Five Innovators Will Earn Prize Money and the Potential for Additional Funding

Global innovation company NineSigma announced today that they are working with Essilor, the world leader in ophthalmic optics, on the See Change Challenge. The purpose of this worldwide initiative is to find innovative solutions that can improve the lives of 2.5 billion people by providing better access to vision care. Up to five winners of the first phase of the challenge will each earn 25,000 € in cash, and will have the opportunity to enter the second phase, where there will be an additional amount of 100,000 € in cash for up to two final winners. Essilor will also potentially support the final winners with development contracts to help them build and scale up their solutions.

Of the 4.5 billion people who need vision correction, only 1.9 billion actually correct their eyesight. The remaining 2.5 billion people live with uncorrected poor vision, and its social and economic consequences. 95% of them live in developing countries where they lack awareness of the impact of this condition and cannot access basic vision care solutions.

The See Change Challenge aims to uncover low-cost, easy-to-use and scalable solutions that can be used by primary vision care workers in underserved areas to accurately measure eye refractive errors. The successful Challenge proposals may include pure software solutions, software solutions based on consumer devices such as smartphones, or pure hardware devices. These solutions would speed up the delivery of primary vision care by enabling more people to be easily trained to become primary eye care workers.

Grand Challenges, such as the See Change Challenge, are a form of Open Innovation (OI), which helps organizations to accelerate the development of groundbreaking products and services, improve their business value, and lead efforts that contribute to solving complex social problems. Through these highly public competitions, organizations reach beyond their existing networks and tap into a worldwide community of scientific and technical experts with solutions that can be adapted or co-developed to fit a specific need. Solution providers are able to earn prize money, achieve visibility for their technologies, and create new channels to further their work.

“Impaired vision is one of the most common disabilities in the world with profound implications for the individual as well as society, especially in emerging regions,” said Dr. Andy Zynga, CEO of NineSigma. “We are very pleased to be working with Essilor to find scalable solutions that will facilitate access to basic vision care by empowering primary eye care workers to improve the vision of great numbers of people, and ultimately enhance their lives.”

The Challenge appeals to startups, universities, app developers, vision scientists, optometrists, engineers and all individuals and organizations interested in developing innovative refractive solutions. Key success criteria for the proposed solutions include:

・Ability to provide measurements of eyesight refractive errors for children, adults, and individuals with ametropia or presbyopia or cataract pathology
・Easy to learn
・Easy to use
・Adapted to ‘nomad’ usage
・User independent
・Require little to no calibration or maintenance
・Reliable and accurate

Solution providers can learn more about this opportunity by going to the Essilor See Challenge site on, NineSigma’s open innovation exchange platform, where they will find entry requirements, evaluation criteria, and a link to a proposal template. The submission deadline is October 21, 2016. For more information, please go to

About NineSigma
NineSigma connects organizations with external innovation resources to accelerate innovation in private, public and social sectors. NineSigma has the largest open global network of solution providers and an extensive database of existing solutions spanning numerous industries and technical disciplines. Learn more at or

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