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UCL Engineering opens Global Disability Innovation Hub

3 October 2017

On 2nd October 2017, UCL took over the leadership of the Global Disability Innovation Hub (GDI Hub) - an innovative research, practice and co-creation centre, harnessing technology for good following London 2012’s Paralympic Legacy Programme, run by London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC).

The GDI Hub on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

GDI Hub will be at the forefront of UCL’s new programmes based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, bringing community partners and start-ups together with academics and businesses to think about disability innovation from a new perspective.

Delivered in partnership with UAL’s London College of Fashion, Loughborough University London, the LLDC, V&A Museum, Sadler’s Wells Theatre and the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design at the Royal College of Art, the centre is the first of its kind in the world.

Nigel Titchener-Hooker, Dean of Engineering, UCL, said:

“The GDI Hub is such an exciting opportunity for UCL Engineering. I am delighted to see the stream of new ideas and the way in which these are now being formed into a compelling and sustainable vision for the future.”

Msc in Disability Design and Innovation

The GDI Hub also announced its first MSc in Disability Design and Innovation (MSc DDI), which will be delivered by world-leading experts from UCL, Leonard Cheshire Disability, Loughborough University London, LLDC and London College of Fashion, UAL. 

The MSc will provide students with a unique multidisciplinary insight, blending engineering with the global policy and societal contexts of disability. It has been designed to appeal to a wide range of students - from engineers wishing to enter international development, to those already working in the field wanting to develop their understanding of how technology can be harnessed to improve the lives of the world’s one billion disabled people. 

The MSc will create a new alumni of graduates able to apply design thinking to complex issues in a global context. The MSc course begins in September 2018, with applications opening January 2018.

Dr Cathy Holloway, Academic Director of the GDI Hub, said:

"GDI Hub could not have been brought to life without the shared vision and hard work of the partner institutions. We have all had to move well outside of our comfort zones to develop the ‘magic in the middle’ and GDI Hub is, as a result, a little bit different. Our vision is to harness this ‘magic’ to make the world a fairer place, for everyone, and that vision is what our MSc will embody."

Town Hall meeting: 7th December 2017

This autumn, the GDI Hub also welcomes its first cohort of PhD students and expands its administrative, research and teaching team as the centre takes shape. A Town Hall Meeting will be held at 4pm on Thursday 7th December 2017 in UCL Here East. Everyone is welcome to attend. 

To find out more, and to follow our progress, visit our website: www.disablityinnovation.com

Professor Frances Corner OBE, Head of London College of Fashion and Pro Vice-Chancellor, University of the Arts London said:

“The Global Disability Innovation hub is an excellent example of how much can be achieved through collaboration – by pulling together expertise from multiple disciplines and through the dual lenses of design for disability and disability inspired design, we are closer to understanding how technology can be harnessed to improve the lives of the world’s 1 billion disabled people. It also illustrates the unparalleled opportunities that our move to Queen Elizabeth Park in 2022 will create – bringing together partner organisations with distinct skill sets who can innovate together to create outputs that have a tangible benefit to society. Over the coming years it will be extremely exciting to see the development of ideas and products which will encapsulate a future that we are yet to imagine.”

Enable Makeathon: December 2017

In December, the GDI Hub will also deliver the Enable Makeathon for the first time in the UK, in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross. This unique global movement will slingshot ideas for new tech for good innovations into action within 90 days, creating solutions across accessibility and employability. 

The event, hosted concurrently in Bangalore and London and will be launched with a reception in the House of Commons on 4th December, followed by a two week intensive co-creation camp. The best ideas will win up to $25k investment product incubation and opportunities to up-scale. 

Professor Mike Caine, Dean, Loughborough University London, said:

"The Global Disability Innovation Hub brings together complementary organisations to generate creative ways to work with, and empower, disabled people to overcome the challenges they face within their communities, both locally, nationally and indeed, in time, globally. Loughborough University are delighted to be involved in this important initiative."

Progess to date

Since its launch by Mayor Sadiq Khan in September 2016, GDI Hub has undertaken its first research projects, delivered a sold out global Disability Innovation Summit and appointed a Disability Innovation Advisory Board of 16 members across three continents. 

Lord Chris Holmes of Richmond has taken up the position of Chair of the Board leading the group of GDI Hub partners and disabled people advise on strategy and priorities moving forwards.

Paul Brickell, Executive Director of Regeneration and Strategic Partnerships at LLDC said:

“Not only did east London deliver the most successful Paralympic Games ever, in 2012, it also delivered the most accessible Olympics Games ever, and since then the most comprehensive Legacy Programme of any host city. The GDI Hub is a testament to what can be achieved through leadership and partnership. We are building a movement to accelerated disability innovation and we encourage you to join us.”

To find out more, and to follow our progress, visit our website: www.disablityinnovation.com