Thursday, 30 October 2014

Inclusive Technology Prize…

Near enough every day, disabled people will come across a problem in their lives that needs to be resolved. The issue is that unless you’re wealthy or make a successful pitch on Dragons Den, the idea will never make it off the ground regardless of how brilliant the product is. Nesta (the UK’s innovation foundation) have recognized this so have set up a £50, 000 prize fund for any entrepreneurs who have a clever and novel idea for a piece of technology, product or service that will greatly improve the lives of disabled people.

As with all competitions, there will be a rigorous judging panel made up of a mixture of people including comedians and successful entrepreneurs. The winner won’t be announced until March 2016 (almost as long as an EastEnders storyline) but the entries must be in by Friday 16th January, which is just over two and a half months away.  The process takes so long because there are various stages and prototypes with detailed plans need to be produced. More information can be found by visiting:

One of the judges is comedian Jess Thom who says that the panel will be on the look out for “new ideas that will have a long lasting impact for the 12.2 million disabled people in the UK.” I share the overall vision of the competition to help create a more equal society through assistive technology and/or products. Constance Agyeman, Programmes Manager for the prize, echoed my thoughts: “Nesta is looking for entries that are co-produced with disabled people and will improve the lives of the everyday person experiencing day-to-day challenges. He concluded by saying that  “The Inclusive Technology Prize is about making that vision a reality.”

Sometimes, you search the web and find that products designed to help are already available to buy but the cost is absurd. For example, after our holiday in Spain last year, it emerged that we needed a portable shower chair. A quick search showed that we could order one from the US but it would cost in excess of £200 plus the relevant postage and packaging fees. Way too much for something I’ll use once or twice a month. My mum came up with a more cost effective way. Buying a cheap foldaway wheelchair for a quarter of the proper shower chair would suit my needs just as well and so has been the case.

That smart idea cost nothing and actually saved us money. However, there are quite a few ideas I have to make life for disabled people easier and more bearable. Having financial backing and support from the right people is the main thing preventing me from turning these concepts into working products. Therefore it goes without saying that I’ll be submitting an idea but I thought I’d promote the prize on here in case any of you have some genius ideas. To enter, please click on this link: and remember the closing date for applications is Friday 16th January at midday.

I should say as a footnote that the Inclusive Technology Prize is brought to you (sounds like I’m introducing a film) in partnership with Nesta, Innovate UK, the Office for Disability Issues, Irwin Mitchell and the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills.

May the best man, woman or disabled person win.

Bye for now!

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