Open Bionics shortlisted for Inclusive Technology Prize

Issue date: 19 March 2015


Open Bionics has been named as one of the 25 innovations that will make the UK more accessible to the 1 in 5 people with disabilities.

The start-up of four based at the Technology Business Incubator at Bristol Robotics Laboratory, is one of 25 designers and entrepreneurs to have been shortlisted out of 200 pitches for the Inclusive Technology prize. They are now in with the chance to win a £50,000 prize for a technology, product or service that enables disabled people in the UK better access to life's opportunities.

Young Design Engineer of the Year and Open Bionics CEO, Joel Gibbard, said, “We decided to enter the Inclusive Technology prize because we want to make a difference with our 3D printed, robotic hands for amputees everywhere. We believe there's a huge need for affordable robotic prosthetics and we think we can help by using emerging technologies like 3D scanning and 3D printing to bring the cost down.

“We're not just focusing on the functionality of the device; we're focusing on making 3D printed hands that amputees will enjoy wearing. We want them to be fashionable, inspiring for children, and even have a few extra capabilities to one-up the human hand. We're constantly working with amputees to develop these desirable devices.”

The Inclusive Technology prize judges said they were inspired by the inventive ideas put forward.

Judge, Jess Thom, said, “Judging the competition so far has been inspiring, as there have been lots of genuinely exciting products and inventive ideas that make the best use of technologies available to us, and can help to increase accessibility for the 12.2 million disabled people in the UK.”

The prize seeks to foster the next generation of assistive tools and technologies that will make a real difference to the 1 in 5 people living with limiting long term illness or disability in the UK.

The shortlist has been selected by a judging panel including comedians Jess Thom, who has Tourette's syndrome, and Laurence Clark who has cerebral palsy, as well as Alan Norton, CEO of Assist charity and Liz Sayce, Chief Executive of Disability Rights UK among others. The shortlisted organisations and individuals will receive mentoring and support from Leonard Cheshire Disability, the UK's leading charity supporting disabled people.

Gemma Bull, Managing Director Enterprise and Innovation for Leonard Cheshire Disability, said, “We are very excited about working with Nesta and mentoring the competition entrants through the Inclusive Technology Prize. This is a fantastic opportunity to develop innovative technology which supports disabled people to lead more independent lives.”

The 25 semi-finalists take part in the mentoring stage of the competition in March, April and May this year, and ten finalists will be selected to develop prototypes ready for impact testing throughout 2015. The winner of the £50,000 contract will be announced in March 2016.

The challenge will encourage all semi-finalists to innovate through co-creation with disabled people, meeting needs as defined by the users themselves.

The Minister of State for Disabled People, Mark Harper said, “Innovative technology can make a real difference to the lives of disabled people and I'm delighted that the Inclusive Technology Prize has inspired all of these cutting edge ideas.

“Supporting disabled people to live full lives and enjoy the same opportunities as everyone else is an absolute priority for us and I am confident that advances in technology will continue to enable us to do more. I wish all the nominees the best of luck.”

The full shortlist can be seen at www.inclusivetechprize.org

Open Bionics is still developing their robotic prosthetics and hope to be selling 3D printed hands within a year.

Open Bionics has won multiple awards for their open source 3D printed robotic hands and was recently named as one of the Top 50 international robotics companies to watch along with Google.

They are based at the Technology Business Incubator, a visionary pilot program to stimulate and support technology start-ups. Working with undergraduate, graduate, post-graduates, staff and partner spinout businesses the incubator provides the BRL with up-to-date and detailed understanding of technology start-up needs and enhances the BRL's creative and entrepreneurial culture. It provides valuable input to courses, research and research exploitation.

For all the latest information from Open Bionics, visit:www.openbionics.comor follow them on Twitter @openbionics.

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