How Here East has become the home for disability-led innovation

Plexal’s partner and Here East neighbour the Global Disability Innovation Hub (GDI Hub) was born from the London 2012 Paralympic Games and is on a mission to make the world fairer by driving disability-led innovation. And it has just become the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Official Collaborating Centre on Assistive Technology. The partnership will see the WHO and GDI Hub work together to:

  • boost access to assistive and accessible tech on a global scale
  • use technology like AI to develop new assistive products
  • providing robust research into the market for and supply of assistive technology

Professor Cathy Holloway, GDI Hub’s academic director, said that there is a “significant opportunity to shift global markers and supply systems, improving equitable access to health products through global market shaping”. She added: “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.”


Disability-led innovation at Here East: who’s here 

The Here East campus has become a global home for disability-led innovation, with innovators, researchers and campaigners clustered here and actively collaborating. These are just some of the organisations on campus:

Plexal: we work with disabled people – the experts by experience – as well as industry to turbocharge the UK’s assistive tech sector and scale disability-led innovations that benefit everyone. Our work includes OpenDoor, our inclusion accelerator, and the Accessible Instruments Challenge, an accelerator funded by Arts Council England to make musical instruments more accessible. And as an ELIEZ partner, we’ve also worked with Disability Rights UK, UCL and a number of Here East tenants to make our physical workspace more accessible.

GDI Hub is both a community interest company and a research centre led by University College London. Its mission is to drive disability-led innovation and widen access to assistive technology. GDI Hub operates in 41 countries and has reached four million people since it launched in 2016.

Scope is a charity that provides practical information and emotional support for disabled people. It also campaigns on issues like web accessibility, accessible travel and sick pay.

Disability Rights UK is a pan-disability charity that represents disabled people in the UK. The charity is a Plexal member that’s taken part in our OpenDoor accelerator and has collaborated with us to make our physical workspace more accessible.

The East London Inclusive Enterprise Zone (ELIEZ) was created to champion disability-led innovation and create a community for entrepreneurs, business leaders and design thinkers who are disabled or whose work focuses on disabled people. A number of Here East neighbours have come together to deliver ELIEZ, including Disability Rights UK, UCL, GDI Hub and Plexal.