UCL GDI Hub Town Hall Meeting 2018
On Monday 19th February the Global Disability Innovation Hub launched its new space at UCL Here East with a highly successful and lively Town Hall event asking: How can we build a disability innovation movement, based in east London, to tackle global injustice?
Attended by over one hundred and twenty members of the public, academia, industry and the charity sector, the programme presented a vision for the GDI Hub's interdisciplinary work, which unites innovative research in areas such as assistive technology, disability studies, AI and robotics with a commitment to building a fairer and more equal world.
The GDI Hub's Academic Director, Dr Catherine Holloway, introduced the three pillars underpinning the Hub's ethos: innovation and entrepreneurship, policy and participation, and research and teaching. Dr Holloway emphasised the Hub's foundation as a start-up community built on open collaboration and partnerships, led by the Global Disability Innovation Advisory Board and disabled people. The event also marked the launch of a new UCL-led MSc in Disability, Design and Innovation, including three new scholarships for disabled students from the Snowdon Trust.
The Town Hall was opened by Professor Nigel Titchener-Hooker, the Dean of Faculty of Engineering Sciences at UCL, who commended the spirit of the GDI for its insight into technological and societal challenges and its commitment to working with communities to enable people to realise their full potential. The Chair of the Global Disability Innovation Hub Advisory Board, Lord Chris Holmes of Richmond, welcomed the audience to the GDI Hub and spoke of the "golden thread of access, diversity and inclusion" that runs through both the space of UCL Here East - the former location of the 2012 Paralympic Games - and the vision of the GDI Hub.
Professor Paola Lettieri, the Academic Director of UCL East, outlined a vision for UCL's future campus at Here East, involving a projected 4000 UCL students and including partnerships with the London College of Fashion, the V&A and Sadler's Wells, and the pioneering presence of the GDI Hub.
The event included a panel discussion involving:
- Professor Nora Groce of the Leonard Cheshire Disability and Inclusive Development Centre
- Chapal Khasnabis of the World Health Organisation
- Kamran Mallick of Disability Rights UK
- Michael Vermeersch of Microsoft
- Julian Walker of UCL's Development Planning Unit
- Vicki Austin, the Director of Strategy and Partnerships at the GDI Hub.
Dr Paul Brickell, the Executive Director of Regeneration and Community Partnerships at the London Legacy Development Corporation, one of the GDI Hub's founding partners, reflected on the development of the space at UCL East since the Paralympic Games, and the importance of the GDI Hub's role in creating global innovation with local, east London significance.
The formal Town Hall proceedings were followed by a vibrant drinks and canapés reception that brought together members of the public and the local community, academics from across the sciences, creative arts and inter-disciplinary backgrounds, students, industry experts and members of the non-profit sector in the spirit of partnership and collaboration.