Innovation for Independence


The Inclusive Technology Prize has now closed.

We're currently developing our next disability prize and are on the look out for potential collaborators, partners and funders to help shape and deliver it.  

To get involved or receive updates, contact us at

On this page you will find information about the Inclusive Technology Prize (ITP) which includes the challenge statement, objectives and entry criteria. 

You can also find out more using the links below:

Judges        Judging criteria        Stages          Partners         Case studies           FAQs

Why are we doing this?

There are over 12.2 million people with a limiting long term illness or impairment in Great Britain.[1] The prevalence of disability rises with age. Many disabled people rely on assisted living technologies to support them in their everyday lives. But there is a strong view that the development and manufacture of aids, adaptations and products has not kept pace with the use of new technologies, materials, design and manufacturing processes as seen in other areas (sport related products for disabled people being the notable exception).

The aim of the Inclusive Technology Prize is to inspire technological innovation from individuals and small businesses to improve or develop assistive living aids, adaptations, products and systems that will make a real difference to the lives of disabled people.

[1] Source: Family Resources Survey 2012/13

What is a challenge prize?

Challenge prizes are a great way of motivating and testing new ideas. They act as an incentive for meeting a specific challenge, rather than an award for past achievements. They reward measurable outcomes and impacts and can also help leverage additional support and recognition to grow and sustain ideas. 

Offering prizes to incentivise breakthrough innovations is a time-honoured practice, which is on the increase. Trials in spurring innovation with prizes are now taking place around the world, by governments, corporations and charities – tackling both technical and social challenges.

The challenge statement

We are looking for innovation in products, technologies and systems that enable disabled people, their families, friends and carers equal access to life’s opportunities. Innovations must involve co-creation with disabled people and can relate to any aspect of life including, but not limited to, education, home, leisure, transport and work.


Education icon - Scholars hat        Home icon        Leisure Icon - Swimmer        Transport Icon - A to B lettering        Work Icon - Briefcase

The connection between these five aspects is undeniable, ideas that are submitted may relate specifically to one or all!

The challenge is open to individuals, groups and organisations and we are particularly keen to encourage disabled people, students, designers and makers to come forward with ideas.

The Inclusive Technology Prize has a number of stages and offers a range of financial support and professional guidance for selected ideas.

A final prize contract of £50,000 will be made to the entry that demonstrates the most significant impact within the challenge time frame, based on the judging criteria.


The objectives of the Incusive Technology Prize are to:

  • Generate public and media interest and excitement in accessible technologies and their ability to make life easier and more inclusive.
  • Facilitate the co-creation of new products, services and systems that meet needs as defined by users themselves.
  • Champion a spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation by supporting disabled people and amateur designer/makers to become assistive technology developers and entrepreneurs.
  • Forge new partnerships between technology users, developers, manufacturers, buyers and providers.
  • Build a dynamic and vibrant market for accessible, functional, flexible and desirable assistive technologies.

Entry Criteria

Open to all ideas

We are open to ideas and proposals from individuals residing in the UK, and all sources and sectors.

Ideas can come from any source

We are keen to receive entries particularly from disabled people, user groups, community groups, the maker community, designers, students and assistive technology professionals.

Groups and organisations do not have to be legally constituted to enter. If an unincorporated association or group is selected as a finalist, they will be supported to become constituted.

Ideas should be co-created

If the entrant is non-disabled, it is important that the development of the idea is co-created with disabled people. This is to ensure that the idea is meeting a specified need.

Willingness to share the idea (Intellectual Property remains with entrant)

All entrants need to demonstrate a willingness to share their idea, experiences and learning to help establish a body of knowledge that can bring about a sustained change in the culture of inclusive technologies. A summary of your solution will be made public on this website to help generate discussion about the topic. It is clear when you complete the form which areas will be made public.

Also Nesta intends to carry out and publish research about the insights gained through the Inclusive Technology Prize. Nesta will not divulge information relating to Intellectual Property in the public domain.


Please ensure that you have the capacity, or can quickly develop a prototype or system blue print for your idea over the challenge time frame. Some support will be provided to help achieve this but you will require the capability to develop the idea if selected.

Prize funding

Prize funding will only be awarded for projects that have an identifiable public benefit related to the aims of the prize and Nesta’s charitable objects and where any private benefit to individuals, companies or shareholders is incidental and not excessive.

All prize funding will be awarded in the form of grants for the continued development of the idea.


We cannot fund activity which is party-political in intention, use, or presentation nor to support or promote religious activity. We will not normally fund the purchase of capital equipment.

The deadline for entries is 12pm (noon) on Friday 16 January 2015.

Definition of disability

The definition of disability that is most commonly used is that of the Equalities Act 2010.

A person is disabled under the Equality Act 2010 if they have a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on their ability to do normal daily activities.

For the purpose of this challenge we are also referencing the social model definition of disability as this is more closely aligned with the ethos of the challenge. Essentially that people may have impairments, but are disabled by the barriers they face within society.

Disability: The loss or limitation of opportunities to take part in the mainstream of the community on an equal level with others due to physical or social barriers.

Disabled people in Britain and Discrimination: A case for Anti-Discrimination Legislation – C Barnes, 1994.

Impairment: An impairment is the functional limitation within the individual caused by physical, mental or sensory factors.

Disabling Laws Enabling Acts, Disability Rights in Britain and America – C Gooding, 1994.

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