UCL announced last week that its Global Disability Innovation Hub has successfully secured £31 million investment from UK Aid, a funding programme which is part of the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.
The funding announced for UCL’s Global Disability Innovation Hub will help the programme to develop its policy and practice frameworks, work towards ensuring physical and digital environments are accessible for assistive technology users, and trial a scaled version of innovation support.
It will also see the development of tools to make better use of data, build on human-computer interaction and AI, as well to develop tools to allow for more affordable and informative data sets for the second global report on assisted technologies.
Thus far, the Hub has worked on projects allowing researchers, innovators and adaptive technology users to experiment with products including eyeglasses, wheelchairs, prosthetics and digital devices. This has included accelerating new technologies and service delivery models through a pilot assistive technology impact fund, trialling market shaping techniques that have worked in other sectors, and developing new tools and training to support governments to build capacity to deliver assisted technologies.
Dr Michael Spence, UCL President and Provost, commented: “The Global Disability Innovation Hub is an immensely valuable part of UCL, enabling us to use our institutional strengths in technology, innovation, design and social research, while working alongside partners in London and across the globe, to improve health outcomes and reduce inequalities. It is excellent news that the GDI Hub has further support to continue their vital work in improving access to transformative assistive technologies.”
UK Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work, Tom Pursglove MP, made the announcement at the UN Disability Conference at the United Nations in New York, stating: “We know that as a global ageing population, the need for ATech is growing; and so must our efforts. If we are lucky enough to grow old, all of us will need ATech at some point in our lifetimes. This investment will redouble our efforts on Inclusive Innovation and ATech access as we approach the last six years of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”
With the Global Report on Assistive Technology revealing that 2.5 billion people require one or more assistive products, and with this figure being expected to grow to more than 3.5 billion by 2050 as the global population ages, UCL’s staff are quoted as being “delighted” that the Hub has been recognised for its contribution to inclusion and equality.