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Themes: Assistive & Accessible Technology

The Global Disability Innovation Hub announces Iain McKinnon as new CEO – as disability innovation continues to emerge as a leading global mechanism to transform lives

As spring arrives in the UK - so too are changes afoot at the East-London based Global Disability Innovation Hub (GDI Hub). Founded on the eve of the Rio Paralympics in 2016, GDI Hub has evolved enormously over the past 8 years. Now operating in over 40 countries, with 100+ partners and over 34 million people reached, the practice and UCL based research centre is on the cusp of a new era.

From April 2024 GDI Hub co-founder and previous Director of Inclusive Design - Iain McKinnon – will become CEO, leading GDI Hub into its next phase. There is much to do!

The global need for assistive technologies and disability innovation is only increasing, and with emerging technologies and innovative approaches providing new solutions and mechanisms towards change, the opportunity for impact is now. Around the world governments, businesses, health systems, decision makers and multi-lateral organisations are recognising the power of disability innovation to change lives – for disabled people and all people. As awareness around intersectionality evolves, so does the potential of a disability lens across global priorities. From climate and crisis to humanitarianism, we are building the data, knowledge and evidence to power that change.

This April GDI Hub’s UK Aid funded AT2030 programme will begin its third phase, with a match-funded £31 million investment to continue to accelerate ground-breaking innovation and research. The programme will support start-up solutions alongside market and ecosystem interventions. New knowledge and research will provide the foundations for increased investment, opening pathways for new sectors and decision makers within the disability innovation space.

For the first time, private capital will support an ambitious scaling pathway for high-potential growth-ready accessible and assistive technology ventures, through the AT2030 AT Growth Fund. Transcending a new frontier for venture capital and commercial lending in AT, mass market adoption of Accessible Technology will be powered through public and private capital. We’ll also develop community-led mechanisms and tools to translate knowledge capital and build global capacity.

Following eight years of exceptional leadership under the vision of Dr Vicki Austin, Iain McKinnon will be moving from Director of Inclusive Design to CEO. A GDI Hub co-founder, Iain has been pivotal to all that has been achieved to date.

As a leading global expert in inclusive design of the built environment, and inclusive and resilient cities, Iain said:

I’m excited by this new challenge both personally and for the business. We’ve come a long way since we started and I hope to build on and continue that growth, development and learning. I’m grateful to Vicki for all that she has done and hope to continue GDI Hub’s leadership in a way that inspires and motivates others to deliver real impact for real people in very tangible ways.

Iain McKinnon