Inclusive Technology Prize

Seeking to champion innovative assistive technology and encourage co-creation with disabled people

What was the Inclusive Tech Prize?

The £250k Inclusive Technology Prize looked for innovative products, technologies and systems that enable disabled people, their families, friends and carers equal access to life’s opportunities. The prize was co-created with people with disabilities with the aim of inspiring technological innovation that made a real difference to their lives. 

The prize was designed and led by Nesta Challenges and run in partnership with Leonard Cheshire Disability, with support from the Department for Work and Pensions, Innovate UK, the Department for Business Innovation and Skills and Irwin Mitchell.

Why did we do this?

The development and manufacture of aids, adaptations and products has not kept pace with the use of new technologies, materials and design and manufacturing processes as seen in other areas. With over 12 million people with a limiting long-term illness or impairments in Great Britain, many disabled people rely on assisted living technologies to support them in their everyday lives. 

This is compounded by the failure of many designers and producers of assistive technology to properly test and develop their ideas and products with potential users, disabled people.

What happened?

  • 25 semi-finalists were invited to an induction day, received a £2,000 grant and support over four months to create a development plan for their idea. 
  • Ten finalists received a £10,000 grant and tailored non-financial support to prototype and user test their idea and produce a business plan. 
  • One finalist was awarded £50,000 and two finalists received recognition awards worth £35,000 and £15,000.

Over 12 million people...

in the UK are living with long-term illness or disability

The purple pound...

which is the combined spending power of disabled people and their families is worth more than £249 billion in the UK

7 out of 10 finalists...

developed business skills through their participation in the Prize

Impact of the Prize

  • 7 out of 10 finalists developed business skills through their participation in the Prize
  • 74% of stakeholders involved in the Prize reported that it encouraged and supported innovation
  • 65% of stakeholders reported that the Prize supported the creation of new partnerships
  • 62% of stakeholders reported that the Prize inspired new solutions
  • All finalists reported that the Prize had inspired and supported them to quickly create or refine a new product
  • Nine out of ten finalists gained one or more partnerships, which they judged added value to their business
  • Finalists felt that they gained credibility from participating in the Prize, supporting the creation of new partnerships

The Inclusive Technology Prize looked for innovative products that enable disabled people, their families, friends and carers equal access to life’s opportunities

Winners

 The Open Voice Factory, eQuality Time

 The Open Voice Factory, eQuality Time is free open-source software that helps give a voice to people with communication difficulties. The Open Voice Factory displays a set of icons that represent words, which a user can look through to find the word they want to express and, once selected, their device will say this word for them.

Evolvable Walking Aid

The Evolvable Walking Aid is a modular range of parts which can be assembled to form a walking stick, crutches, a walking frame, or variations of these aids. It saves users from having to buy a whole new walking aid when their mobility condition changes. It won the £35k Recognition Award.

How Do I? Swiss Cottage School, Development and Research Centre and Bam Mobile

How Do I? Swiss Cottage School, Development and Research Centre and Bam Mobile is an app which uses Near Field Communication (NFC) technology to deliver instructional videos to young people with learning difficulties, helping them to live more independently. It won the £15k Recognition Award.

Finalists

Active Hands designs and sells a range of products to help people with a number of disabilities that affect hand function or control be more active and independent. Two products were submitted for the judges’ consideration: Fine Motor and Limb Difference Aids.

 A  wheelchair lap belt that can be attached and released using one hand. Promoting the independence of wheelchair users with a range of functional impairments. The belt can be attached for right-handed or left-handed users, and is designed to support people with hand tremors, visual impairments, and limited strength and manual dexterity.

The Hearing Loop Listener allows people with mild to moderate hearing loss, who do not wear a hearing aid, make use of hearing loops in public places. 

Nimble is the world’s first one finger package opener. The small, portable tool sits on your fingertip and can be used to open all sorts of packaging.

Open Bionics are 3D printed, customisable, fully functioning bionic hands for amputees which are up to 20 times cheaper than traditional injection moulded bionic limbs.

An online platform to help disabled people access support more easily. PlanHub allows users to host their emergency information as well as information from their different support services in a profile accessed through a digitally connected wearable.

An online marketplace for health and care services aimed at disabled people and their carers. It cuts out the need for brokerage services by providing a targeted search system that matches services and workers with the exact needs of the user. 

Judges

The team

Constance Agyeman

Director of International Development

Charlotte Macken

Prize Design Manager

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