GDI Hub announced as global driver of Assistive Technology

The Global Disability Innovation Hub (GDI Hub) is the first organisation to be awarded the status of World Health Organisation (WHO) Official Collaborating Centre on Assistive Technology (AT).

Led by GDI Hub’s Academic Director, Professor Cathy Holloway, the WHO Collaborating Centre will focus on driving global disability innovation to work towards a fairer world through access to assistive and accessible technology.

Experts from GDI Hub will support the WHO in widening global access to AT, which will be done through improving access to assistive products for humanitarian response, driving advances in digital technology and artificial intelligence and developing and implementing a one-stop shop model of assistive products service provision.

They will also contribute to the 2022 WHO/UNICEF World Report on Assistive Technology, highlighting the current need, demand and supply of assistive technology, as well as outlining good practices for innovation and recommendations to improve access.

Professor Holloway said: “We are delighted to be the WHO's first Assistive Technology Collaboration Centre. Never has there been a more important time to address the needs of disabled and older people, as globally we look to build back fairer from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Our evidence-led approach founded in research and academic excellence enables GDI Hub to explore global challenges from a new perspective. Our UK Aid funded AT2030 programme has already made progress to improve access to life-changing AT for all. Building on this knowledge, alongside the expertise of the WHO, there is a significant opportunity to shift global markers and supply systems, improving equitable access to health products through global market shaping.”

GDI Hub was selected because of its global expertise in AT and its track record of supporting four million people with disabilities in 35 countries over the last two years to access AT.

Dr Mariângela Simão, Assistant Director General of the WHO, responsible for medicines and health products, said: “Collaborating centres form a vital part of the international collaborative network to support WHO in its programmes. We are delighted to announce the Global Disability Innovation Hub as the first Assistive Technology Collaborating Centre, as we look to address the important and unmet need for assistive technology access around the world. Especially at this time of crisis, such expertise is vitally needed to ensure no one is left behind."

Minister for Disabled People Justin Tomlinson said: “This pioneering collaboration builds on the legacy of London 2012 – the most accessible Olympics and most successful Paralympics ever. UK designers and engineers are working hard to support the Government's commitment to disability inclusion, and through our forthcoming National Strategy we continue to remove barriers for disabled people to help unlock their full potential.

GDI Hub grew out of the bold approach to disability inclusion taken during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. It was launched to build on this legacy and empower local communities through innovative design and engineering, working with business partners based in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park including Loughborough University London, UCL and the London College of Fashion.
GDI Hub now delivers programmes worldwide with a portfolio of £50m as well as a world leading MSc Disability, Design and Innovation programme. It is on track to meet its goal of supporting 15 million people to access AT by 2024.

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, named the best university in the world for sports-related subjects in the 2020 QS World University Rankings and top in the country for its student experience in the 2018 THE Student Experience Survey.

Loughborough is in the top 10 of every national league table, being ranked 4th in the Guardian University League Table 2020, 5th in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020 and 8th in The UK Complete University Guide 2020.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

Specialising exclusively in postgraduate-level study, Loughborough University London is based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and offers cutting-edge master’s and PhD degrees, as well as business collaboration, research and enterprise opportunities.

The seven specialist institutes at Loughborough University London include: Design Innovation, Digital Technologies, Diplomacy and International Governance, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, International Management, Media and Creative Industries, and Sport Business. Close industry partnerships with a wealth of leading businesses and creative organisations means teaching and learning is informed by real-life challenges and driven by true industry pressures.