UCL Grand Challenges


Paralympicopolis: A Pop Up Global Disability Innovation Hub

A UCL 2034 grant-funded Grand Challenges Human Wellbeing project.

4 October 2016


Grant: Grand Challenges UCL2034 Grants
Year awarded: 2016-17
Amount awarded: £10,000


  • Maria Kett, Leonard Cheshire Disability and Inclusive Development Centre, Population Health Sciences

In 2016, UCL Grand Challenges funded eight projects under an initiative to support UCL’s 2034 strategy, and in particular Principal Theme on ‘Addressing global challenges’. Amongst them was a £10,000 award for a pop-up Global Disability Hub. Building on the 2012 Paralympic legacy of sustainability and accessibility, Dr Maria Kett (UCL International Disability Research Centre) with Paul Brickell, Executive Director of Regeneration & Community Partnerships at the London Legacy Development Corporation (which provided matched funding), endeavoured to show that the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park could continue to be an exemplar of inclusivity. ‘Paralympicopolis: A Pop-Up Global Disability Innovation Hub’was held in May 2016, in collaboration with many partners including the V&A and the RoyalCollege of Art, and involving disabled people in all activities. It attracted over 100 participants across five cross-disciplinary sessions on the following topics: 

  • Navigation of QEOP for people with visual impairment
  • 3D printing wheelchairs
  • Post-skins and interfaces
  • How disabled children get to school in Zimbabwe
  • The future of GDI Hub

Outputs and Impacts

  • The workshops and discussions led to the creation of the UCL Global Disability Innovation Hub, formally launched by Mayor Sadiq Khan later that year. The Hub brings together UCL researchers, and local and international partners, to explore topics such as inclusive design, assistive technologies, participation and active citizenship, human computer interaction for community wellbeing, and disability arts, sports and inclusive culture.