Research funding in the Global North has become an increasingly competitive space where demonstrable real-world impact is paramount for any research proposal to have a realistic chance of being funded. As a multi-sector, multi-partner, inter-disciplinary research centre with a global focus, GDI Hub is well placed to influence the mission of research funders and to access a diverse and cross-disciplinary funding pool in order to further our mission.
The Hub is developing at pace to become the world’s leading research center on disability innovation. We have therefore adopted four research principles that any potential activities must encompass, that are in line with our overall vision, mission, and objectives. GDI Hub research projects must:
- Have disabled people at the center of the research project life cycle, from design to delivery
- Be ambitious and innovative in scope
- Be created with interdisciplinary teams, utilizing expertise from across GDI Hub partner
- Leverage international partnerships to maximize global reach
GDI Hub’s Academic Research Centre is led by our Academic Director at University College London (UCL).
Fit-for-purpose, affordable body-powered prostheses is designing upper limb prostheses that are both low cost and fit for their purpose and circumstance. The project is funded through the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Global Challenges Research Fund.
As part of the AT2030 programme, the GDI Hub will support Motivation in testing their new wheelchair provision system in Kenya to evaluate the quality of the new designs and understand how distributed manufacturing through 3D printing could augment current wheelchair service provision models.
The GDI Hub, as a part of the AT2030 Spark Innovation Sub Programme, has partnered with Amparo to support them in carrying out a clinical trial to evaluate how the Amparo Confidence Socket could help the provision of lower limb prosthetic in Kenya.
GDI Hub has partnered with Humanity & Inclusion to support them with the research components of the project, to ensure that robust evidence is collected and analysed across all sites.
For demand-based innovation to thrive we require a range of activities which can both adapt to good ideas coming from disabled people as well as working more closely with the market-shaping project to iterate business plans and create routes to market that were otherwise not available.
Researchers from the Development Planning Unit at UCL, along with Leonard Cheshire, are working with the GDI Hub to undertake an exciting programme working with communities living in conditions of informality (often referred to as slums) in Freetown, Sierra Leone and Banjarmasin, Indonesia.
An EPSRC GCRF project the project tested a new methodology for creating accessible maps for fast changing cities like Delhi. Using embedded sensors attached to wheelchairs, we mapped accessible and difficult to access routes. Initially, the project also aimed to capture rehabilitation metrics whilst pushing a wheelchair beyond a clinical environment, but instead the community of wheelchair users we worked with preferred to use the tool as an advocacy tool.
A research project to understand how and when manual wheelchair users need and use power assistance and to determine if fuel cell technology is suitable for the power requirements of assistive technology, specifically wheelchairs.
This project looked at identity and the changing perception of disabled people and disability. The primary focus was prosthetics and the use of new technologies including 3D printing to democratise prosthetics and allow individuals to customise their assistive devices in a timely and affordable way.
Ongoing research where we have developed a new technique for wheelchair localisation and surface determination using a fusion of GPS/IMU information and machine learning. Data captured helps wheelchair users travel in a more effective ways and share data to demonstrate accessibility issues and encourage improvements.
To address the need gap and significantly scale up the provision of affordable and appropriate AT, this sub-programme will test market shaping methodologies which include research, scoping, and future planning; the creation of market shaping tools; and pilot testing of market interventions. This sub-programme is led by the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI).
To align and consolidate global AT efforts as well as to lay the foundations for systems-level change on a global scale this sub-programme will provide a set of global benchmarks and standards for AT. The sub-programme will develop models of integrated AT service provision, including screening and training tools; develop procurement tools; as well as a mobile tool to identify population needs for AT. This programme is being co-led by WHO, UNICEF, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.