Innovation for Independence

Congratulations to 10 finalists!

Publish date:
30/06/2015 - 8:14am
Last updated:
29/09/2015 - 5:11pm

The Inclusive Technology Prize seeks to inspire innovations in assistive technology. The Prize is now moving into its final stage and we’re thrilled to announce our 10 finalists. We can now share who are finalists are and how the Inclusive Technology Prize will support them to develop their products and demonstrate the impact that they could have on the lives of disabled people, their friends, families and carers.

Many people rely on assistive technologies in their everyday lives but there’s a strong feeling that, for the most part, the development and manufacture of these aids, systems and products has not kept pace with the use of new technologies, materials, design and manufacturing processes as seen in other areas. The Inclusive Technology Prize seeks to tackle this challenge.

Run by Nesta, with support from the Office for Disability Issues, Innovate UK, The Department for Business Innovation and Skills and Irwin Mitchell, and in partnership with Leonard Cheshire Disability, the Inclusive Technology Prize is designed to inspire technological innovations in assistive products, systems and aids and encourage co-creation with disabled people.

From more than 200 applications to 10 finalists

In March our judges and assessors selected 25 semi-finalists from over 200 applications. Each semi-finalist was entitled to financial and tailored non-financial support to help them create development plans, outlining the potential of their ideas. In June, we held a second judging panel which saw the selection of our 10 finalists on the basis of their development plans.

We would like to thank all of our semi-finalists for their efforts and wish them every success in the future. The high quality of all their ideas made choosing our 10 finalists exceptionally difficult.

What support will the finalists receive?

The ten finalists will now each receive £10,000 as well the offer of tailored non-financial support from Irwin Mitchell and Leonard Cheshire Disability. This financial and non-financial support is designed to help our finalists prototype their products, test them with users and create viable business plans. You can expect blogs and regular updates on our finalists’ work over the next few months.

A winner will be selected from the finalists in March 2016 and awarded £50,000 to help bring their product to market.

Who are the finalists?

We are thrilled to announce our 10 finalists and look forward to seeing how their innovative ideas develop!

1. A gripping device to enable those with limb difference to hold many objects or small items - Active Hands

In response to customer feedback we plan to develop and bring to market two new products for the Active Hands range. The first is a gripping aid specific to those with limb difference either from birth or from amputation. This device would enable users to firmly hold large or heavy objects or use gym equipment. The second aid would enable users to hold small objects such as pens, paint brushes, make up items and other small objects giving independence in many day to day tasks which would otherwise be impossible or very difficult.

2. Affordable Bionic Hands - Open Bionics

We plan to make bionic hands more affordable, comfortable to wear, and enjoyable to look at. A bionic hand is a truly life-changing technology. It has a huge impact in a hand amputee’s everyday life. It offers a far greater degree of freedom, quality of life, and independence. An amputee with a bionic hand can pick up a fork with ease to feed themselves, help them get dressed easier, even go to the bathroom by themselves. This tech can help amputees get back into work, hold their kid’s hand to cross the road, and do up their shoe laces. The problem is bionic hands are unaffordable, so we plan to 3D print them for £1,000 and sell them directly to the amputee.

3. AzuleJoe: the first open source communication aid - eQuality Time

Communication is a human right but there are 23,000 people in the UK who are literally silenced by lack of access to assistive technology. AzuleJoe is an open source assistive communication technology that can run on any platform, from iPad to laptop to Kindle, without installation or complex setup. Our USP is our free-at-the-point-of-delivery model and ease of transfer between devices. There are a range of expensive solutions for people who need assistive technology to communicate. However, AzuleJoe is the first open-source option that is free at the point of delivery.

4. Evolvable Walking Aid; the modular range can be assembled to form different walking aids - Cara O'Sullivan

The Evolvable Walking Aid Kit is a modular range of components which can be assembled to form different types of walking aid to provide users with the specific type of support they require. Having control over their support increases the user’s confidence and reduces their risk of injury or falls, which are only due to rise with the increasing use of walking aids resulting from a growing and aging population. This improves both physical and psychological aspects of rehabilitation at the same time as offering independence and reducing the financial impact of transitioning between different types of walking aid.

5. HandyClix - A one handed lap belt - National Star

Many wheelchair users are impaired in the use one hand. Because current wheelchair lap belts require two hands to connect them, assistance is always required creating dependency and promoting a loss of independence and dignity. HandyClix is a one handed lap belt designed to allow the user to attach and tighten the belt using only one hand. The universal design allows for right or left handed users and can be fitted to different styles of wheelchair. A choice of buckle designs allows users to select the most appropriate and a retractable belt option allows accessible storage. HandyClix retails from £27.

6. Hearing Loop Listening App - Action on Hearing Loss (RNID)

The Hearing Loop Listening App would allow people without hearing aids, who have mild to moderate hearing loss, hear speech and music more clearly at locations and venues where a hearing loop is installed. The app would allow users to listen to the loop via headphones connected to a smartphone or tablet. Service providers will also benefit from this app, using it as a quick and easy way to check that their hearing loop is working.

7. How do I? Use of Near Field Communication to Teach Independent Living Skills - Swiss Cottage School, Development and Research Centre

Use Near Field Communication (NFC) technology to teach life skills to people with learning disabilities. An application links instructional videos to NFC stickers attached to household objects. When you hold your tablet or smartphone over a sticker, the app will launch a video for that object, e.g. How do I make a cup of tea? on the kettle. How do I get dressed? on the wardrobe. In this way, we make consumer goods smarter and more accessible; we facilitate transitions to independent living; reduce dependence on care and support workers; and make measurable improvements to life at home.

8. Nimble - Version 22 Design

Nimble is the one-finger package opener that gives disabled people their independence back in the kitchen and on the go. With one swipe of their finger they can go from having to ask for help opening plastic food packaging to opening it themselves with ease. Nimble’s safe blade profile means you can’t cut yourself when using it and its patent pending one-finger operation makes it accessible for people with limited hand mobility, joint pain, little-to-no hand strength, hand tremors, reduced hand-eye co-ordination, deformed or swollen hands and for people with only one usable hand such as stroke victims or amputees.

9. PlanHub - Votre Chemin

There are 11 million disabled people, 433 local authorities and countless support services in the UK. This fragmented approach makes enabling a disabled person to live independently harder than it needs to be. PlanHub is a new, customisable platform designed to enable a disabled person to have a voice. By linking emergency information, plans, administration and services into a single, online location, opened using a Near Field Communication Chip accessed via a reader or mobile with NFC, users can decide what information the system holds about them, and who they want to be able to see it.

10. Supportspace - Futurecoders

Supportspace is a multi-platform application that connects Personal Care Budget recipients with support workers and the Social Services agency that administers funding. Future Coders believes that this will be a great empowering tool for disabled persons and a time and money saving device for statutory authorities.


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Jared's picture
As a Deaf attorney in the United States, my vote goes to #6: Hearing Loop Listening App. This application will benefit people who have a hearing loss around the globe. I have gone to many concerts, theatrical productions and lectures and I have difficulty hearing sometimes. This would be a life changing invention.
Juliette Sterkens AuD's picture
As an audiologist and hearing loop advocate - my vote goes to #6 as well. Consumers with hearing loss are literally "out of the loop" in many public places because their hearing aids and CIs have only an effective range of 6 feet or less - often a reason why people with hearing loss don't get hearing aids - they fail to help them hear well in public places, theaters and houses of Worship where they need them the most. (Hearing in a theater is analogous to making a video recording of children on stage from the back row in an auditorium). The app would not only benefit the millions of consumers who don't wear hearing aids – it would also benefit hearing aid users - as it would certainly encourage the installation of hearing loops around the world.
Dee's picture
#6 Hearing Loops gets my vote. Why? Because the potential user base in the USA is 48 million people. Worldwide, the potential user base is staggering. Hearing Loops installed in public venues changes lives. Millions and millions and millions of people with mild, moderate, severe and profound hearing loss. We need Hearing Loops. Thank you!!
Jodi Hirsch AuD's picture
As an Audiologist in the USA my vote goes to #6- Hearing loops are becoming more commonplace and this will provide access to non hearing aid wearers that need assistance as well as promote additional public access via the installation of hearing loops in even more public locations. Win/win
ZPaczkowska's picture
Dear all, thank you for your comments. We're glad to see your support and understanding of impact our finalists can potentially have on societies. Watch this space as we will soon start publishing regular blogs from finalists on how they are progressing!