Innovation for Independence


1. Who can enter the challenge?

The challenge is open to individuals, groups and organisations and we are particularly keen to encourage the disabled community, students, designers and makers to come forward with ideas. If the entrant is non-disabled, it is important that the development of the idea is co-created with a disabled person(s).  This is to ensure that the idea is meeting a specified need. 

The entrant must be based in the UK and the overall solution must be marketed in the UK. 

Read more about Entry Criteria here.

2. Can I submit more than one idea?
Yes, you can submit more than one idea and be named as a partner on more than one entry. Each idea submitted needs to be innovative and different to any others submitted.

3. I have entered my idea into another competition; can I submit the same idea to this competition?
Yes you can enter your idea even if you have submitted it to another competition.  Please make sure you provide relevant and specific answers to the entry questions for this competition.

The other competition may have rules about you entering your idea in more than one competition.  It is your responsibility to check this before you enter this competition.

4. Can I remove my entry once I have submitted it?
Yes, you can send an e-mail to and request for your entry to be removed.

5. What kind of ideas are you looking for?
We are looking for adaptations or brand new technologies, products or event whole systems. These things are not mutually exclusive, however, as guidance:

  • Products can relate to hardware, like kettles, doors and wheelchairs.
  • Technologies can relate to software, like software applications and mobiles apps.
  • Systems can relate to infratructure and services, like online booking and integrated smart devices.

6. Why are Nesta and partners running the Inclusive Technology Prize?
There are over 12.2 million people with a limiting long term illness or impairments in Great Britain.[1] The prevalence of disability rises with age. Many disabled people rely on assisted living technologies to support them in their everyday lives. But there is a strong view that 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 (sport related products for disabled people being the notable exception).

The aim of the Inclusive Technology Prize is to inspire technological innovation from individuals and small businesses to improve or develop assistive living aids, adaptations, products and systems that will make a real difference to the lives of disabled people.

7. What do you mean by innovation?
Innovation could involve coming up with a brand new idea, combining things in a new way, or finding new ways of making existing solutions work better. The best innovations often involve re-organising processes or the way people interact for example.

8. How important is it for entrants to demonstrate an insight into the disability their idea is related to?
It is extremely important, that is why co-creation is a key entry criterion.Your entry needs to meet a need and demonstrate a genuine understanding of the disability that your technology, product and system relates to.

9. I have already developed my idea, can I use that as an entry for this challenge?
As we are looking for innovation you will need to explain how your idea differs or if it builds on something else that you know of or are currently developing.  It’s important for us to understand that it is a new idea or a new way of utilising the technology, product and system.

10. How do you define ‘disabled’?
The definition of disability that is most commonly used is that of the Equalities Act 2010.

A person is disabled under the Equality Act 2010 if they have a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on their ability to do normal daily activities.

For the purpose of this prize we are also referencing the social model definition of disability (stated below) as this is more closely aligned with the ethos of the challenge prize.  Essentially that people may have impairments, but are disabled by the barriers they face within society. Please also refer to Scope’s recent film ‘What is the social model of disability?’.


The loss or limitation of opportunities to take part in the mainstream of the community on an equal level with others due to physical or social barriers.

Disabled people in Britain and Discrimination: A case for Anti-Discrimination Legislation – C Barnes, 1994


An impairment is the functional limitation within the individual caused by physical, mental or sensory factors

Disabling Laws Enabling Acts, Disability Rights in Britain and America – C Gooding, 1994

11. Can I get some advice on how to best enter the competition?
If you have enquiries about how to enter the competition please e-mail or call 020 74382500 and ask for the Inclusive Technology Prize team.

12. Who decides on the prize winners?
We are bringing together a high-profile panel of Judges, whose combined expertise will cover: design and innovation processes, consumer needs, policy development and insight into the issues disabled people encounter on a day to day basis. You can find out more about the judges here.

The Judges decision will also be informed by reports from assessors to ensure that the Finalists’ technology, product or system will potentially make a real difference to the lives of disabled people.

13. What can the Prize be used for?
The prize will be awarded in the form of a grant contract with agreed deliverables. Read our Terms and Conditions for more information.

14. Is there a guaranteed winner? 
No, the distribution of the prize fund will depends on performance against our criteria.  We will only award the prize money if the Judges consider an entry or entries to have met or exceeded the challenge.

Please also read the Terms and Conditions.

15. What kind of support will be offered?
Semi-finalists and Finalists will be offered a range of support, dependent on the requirements of their idea. Finalists will be awarded up to £10,000 in a combination of financial and non finacial support to help develop their prototype and make their idea a reality.

16. What does the testing period comprise of?
The type of impact testing conducted with user groups will depend on the nature of the prototype and will be agreed with Finalists at an early stage.  We would however recommend that the idea is constantly being tested by the entrant with a user group during development.

17. When will semi-finalists and winner be announced?
Semi-finalists will be announced Friday 13th February 2015. We expect that the winner will be announced at an event in March 2016.

18. What happens to the ideas that don’t make it to the final stages of the competition?
All entries will be listed on Semi-finalists and Finalists will also be labelled clearly on the prize platform. We will be looking at ways of signposting entrants to more funding opportunities and other types of support.

19. Who is providing the funds for running this challenge?
The Challenge Prize has been funded by Nesta, Department for Work and Pensions - Office for Disability Issues, Innovate UK, Department for Business, Innovation and Skils and Irwin Mitchell.

20. Why is the Inclusive Technology Prize restricted to the UK?
Because the signifciant proportion of the funding is provided by UK government departments, the funding needs to be allocated in the UK.

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