top of page

About the TOM Global Innovation Challenge


The annual TOM Global Innovation Challenge is a competition among teams who have a passion to design, engineer, and create technological solutions that help others.


Makers, engineers, students, designers, and care specialists will form teams that compete to create affordable, open-source solutions designed to address challenges people with disabilities are facing in their daily lives. Teams have the option to compete with new projects or submit existing solutions they previously developed.

This is the third annual TOM Global Innovation Challenge, since its start in 2021. This project was created to inspire the global maker movement, as well as the network of TOM communities worldwide, to use their skills to create meaningful open-source solutions for people with disabilities in their communities.


The GIC is a flagship annual program that contributes to TOM’s vision of creating thousands of open-source solutions, and by doing so will have the potential to help millions of people with disabilities around the world.

How it works

What platforms are used for the GIC?

GIC uses the the following platforms:


For virtual events and 1:1 mentoring meetings

To document your project


To communicate with the TOM team and mentors and for ongoing updates

What is the sports element of the GIC?

For the 2023 GIC we added a special category of prizes for teams who develop sports-related solutions. These solutions can be in one of two areas: “Recreational” solutions that aim to help make leisure sports more accessible for people with disabilities; or “Paralympic” solutions that will help a specific athlete or team qualify for, and compete in, the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris.

Can I develop and submit a solution that is not related to sports?

Absolutely! People with disabilities face challenges in almost all aspects of their daily lives and we encourage you to find a challenge that best helps your Need Knower.

What should be submitted?


Throughout the Innovation Challenge each team must submit the following:

March 13

Submit Your Concept

April 3

Submit Your Working Model

May 1

Submit Your Prototype

Learn More about the submission milestones:


A concept is a basic idea of solving a challenge and should include a description of the suggested solution, basic visualization such as a sketch or a rendering, and preferably input from a Need Knower about the solution.

Using the TOM Documentation Platform participants will fill out the concept form;

  • General description of the challenge

  • General description of desirable solution 

  • 2D/3D sketches (CAD files, drawings, pictures, videos)

Working model

A Working Model is a model that proves the basic assumptions or features of the proposed solution. It can be made of any material but must include sketches, photos or CAD files that can help replicate that model. It should also include feedback from a Need Knower after at least one user test.

Using the TOM Documentation Platform, participants fill out the Working Model form;

  • Updated description of solution;

  • Video showing Need Knower using the working model

  • Additional CAD files, pictures, videos


A Prototype is a solution used regularly by at least one Need Knower. This stage must include additional considerations such as functionality, durability, comfort, ergonomics, ease of use, aesthetics, and other usability scenarios. It can be made with any material and technology, but preferably those found in a makerspace.

Using the TOM Online Documentation Platform fill out the Prototype form

  • Bill of materials

  • Assembly Video / Guide


Submit your Prototype pitch video (3 minutes) - showing you, your teammates and Need Knower detailing the challenge, development process and solution. Make sure to show the Need Knower using the prototype in their daily life. 

How are winners selected?

The judges will review your submissions and score them according to the following criteria:




Quality of Solution









The teams with the highest scores will be announced in a virtual event May 2, 2023.

Do I need a team to register?

No - you may register as an individual. However, see below about working with a Need Knower.

Do I need a Need Knower?

Yes - your solution must be developed to directly solve a challenge presented by a Need Knower. It is OK if you do not have a Need Knower at the time of registration, but you must have one by the time you submit your concept. There will be tutorials to teach you how to effectively find and work with a Need Knower.

What is a Need Knower?

A Need Knower is an individual with a disability or someone with an intimate understanding of- and direct experience with- the need the solution is addressing (can be a parent, social worker, caretaker, etc.).

Is there a maximum number of participants in a team?

No. There is no limit to the number of members in your team.

Can we register with a pre-existing project?

Yes. If you have an existing solution that you developed, you may submit it to the competition. In order for existing projects to be considered, they must be submitted and documented using the TOM documentation system.

What should I do once I registered for the GIC?

Teams and individuals are free to start working on their projects by connecting with their team members, speaking with their Need Knowers, investigating the challenge, and start designing and developing their solution. After the competition launch (Feb 15), teams will have access to 1:1 mentoring from professionals, live and recorded webinars, workshops and tutorials.

Still have questions? Looking for help?

Send us an email to or join the GIC Slack channel after you register for the competition.

bottom of page