Domain: Innovation

Themes: Assistive & Accessible Technology

Live Labs


The Live lab service is our approach to providing disability inclusive, evidence-based, user centred design methods of user development and product development for AT start-ups and ventures. Objectives include the facilitation of disability inclusive product development practices, promote evidence-based decision making, and combine academic research with rapid product development. Live Lab activities support ventures to create market-ready AT products, appropriate to the environment, ecosystems and region. Testing and refinement are critical to maximise the success of AT delivery, delivering the greatest impact and reducing abandonment rates for AT

People with disabilities have a unique and experience based understanding of where their needs are unmet by the current markets. They are often lead users in many assistive technology start-ups and preform a critical role in the development and communication of products and services. Early-stage start-ups and small companies that aim to expand to new markets may not have the experience or awareness about the specific and critical needs of people with disabilities in every context. The live labs aim to bring people who would eventually use the products and services close to the very initial product development process. They are inclusive, user centric product development workshops for start-up ventures to develop disability inclusive products and interactions.

The project

GDI Hub Accelerate Live Labs provide fast and practical product development insights through systematic and appropriate user centred research with people with disabilities. Supporting evidence-based decision making through relevant and important lead user insights, but at the same time gather important evidence to measure impact of the solution for the wider market.

This coordinated and bespoke enables ventures get access to their users who can provide constructive feedback to their evaluation questions. Beyond users, live labs also provide expert guidance from relevant experts from the industry and academia on three focus areas through workshops:

  • Desirability – in which the core question is - what makes your product desirable and how might we design a greater affinity for the product among the users?
  • Feasibility – this is to do with the technical development of the product and aims to answer – how can the product work in the chosen context, how can we manufacture it and make it future proof?
  • Sustainability – how can we ensure that the business with the product and the service is profitable and can scale and expand.

Live Lab can support early-stage start-ups to advanced business who wish to expand to lower and middle-income countries. The service model can be replicated by other implementation partners, who can provide access to people with disabilities in disabled people organisations.


Live Labs are developed alongside our global partners and collaborators - and currently exist within established projects, programmes and research (e.g. Innovate Now). Acting as an important resource and step within the innovation journey for both new and existing products.

Fundamental to live labs is lived experience, alongside disability innovation coaching to explore entrepreneurial and innovative approaches to product development. Mentorship is also an important element, focusing on knowledge sharing and ecosystem insights to drive scalability.

To support the process, GDI Hub Accelerate innovation curriculum provides a knowledge based foundation taking founders through every phase of their development journey - from design and development of the product, to marketing, production and finance.

Discussion group sitting in a circle