AT 2030 - Spark: Innovation

AT 2030 - Spark: Innovation

We are delighted to be partners on the AT 2030 project, led by the Global Disability Innovation Hub (GDI) and initially funded by the Department for International Development (DfID). DFID’s fast-start £10m support for AT 2030 will help to lay the foundations for global Assistive Technology (AT) access through finding evidence of what works; testing user-centred design of technology; trailing new service delivery innovation; and opening market access in priority countries. 

AT 2030 is made up of six sub-programmes:

1. Support ATscale the Global AT Partnership
2. Coordinate Research, Evidence and Impact
3. Spark: Innovation
4. Drive Availability and Affordability
5. Open Up Market Access
6. Build Capacity and Participation driving Community-Led Solutions

The Institute of Making are partners on sub-programme 3: Spark: Innovation. Based at the GDI, it is led by Dr Catherine Holloway (Computer Science UCL) and Professor Mark Miodownik. This programme aims to improve the use of emerging technology for accessibility and to spur on new innovations. It will establish an Innovation Hub in Kenya; create a challenge fund for innovation acceleration; and trial new ideas to bring to market. We are using our expertise in maker spaces, assistive technologies, new materials, and our innovative approach to material challenges to collaborate with a team of academics and community leaders in Nairobi, who will build the new Innovation Hub and connect to a global network of innovation hubs. 

The Problem:

Globally, to date, organisations have delivered disparate, pilot or uncoordinated projects in the field of Assistive Technology (AT). Though they may have been individually successful, these initiatives have been unable to fully address the underlying barriers to access. 

The net effect of this fragmented approach is that interventions have failed to generate sustained progress towards universal access to AT. In addition, while technology and innovation are beginning to take disability and accessibility issues into the mainstream in high-income countries, in some low- and middle-income countries simple digital solutions are still far from reach and where innovations are driven by communities in developing countries. Often they aren’t able to scale in a sustainable and coordinated way. 

AT 2030 Aims:

AT 2030 will reach at least 3 million people; catalyse at least 10 new disruptive technologies with potential for life-changing impact; develop at least 6 innovative service delivery models; spark 30-50 new start-ups; develop and test new methodologies for market shaping on assistive technologies; establish an East Africa AT Innovation Hub; double DFID’s initial investment through partner backing; and use all of this to leverage resources from other stakeholders by informing and supporting the development of a new Global Partnership for Assistive Technology. 

AT 2030 will be delivered through a new partnership with London-based Global Disability Innovation Hub, WHO, the Clinton Health Access Initiative, UNICEF and some of the world’s best AT innovators, universities and disability NGOs.

Researcher Profile

Ben Oldfrey - Research Fellow

Ben Oldfrey is a Research Fellow working between the Global Disability Innovation Hub and the Institute of Making at UCL on the FCDO AT2030 programme. He completed his PhD at UCL, with a thesis exploring soft skin-like sensors and AI with application in smart prosthetic liners. He has strong interest in novel material use, digital fabrication and the circular economy, and his postdoctoral research has a major focus on the localised manufacture of assistive technology in low resource settings. He currently also leads the FCDO Covidaction Local Production Local Solutions Initiative which supports local producers in in 5 African countries and Nepal to make what is needed for their communities.

This research is funded by:

AT 2030 - Spark: Innovation