SP 5: GDI Accelerate

Now GDI Accelerate, a powerhouse of insight, innovation and technical excellence – designing, testing and scaling solutions. SP 5 was previously operationalised as the AT Impact Fund which was established to better enable frontier technology solutions to reach people with disabilities in Africa, and to test business models that are most likely to succeed.


SP 5: GDI Accelerate:

The Global agency for disability innovation. A powerhouse of insight, innovation and technical excellence – designing, testing and scaling solutions. 

Partners include: GDI Hub at UCL, Brink, Catalyst Fund, HearX, Wazi, Koalaa, OADCPH, MiracleFeet, 60 Decibels, University of Nairobi, Operation Namaste, IIIT Bangalore, Microsoft Research Lab, IIT-Madras. Our latest projects within SP 5 are: 

Virtual Live Labs:

The aim of this project is to develop a series of virtual live labs when entrepreneurs and early-stage ventures can be aided by GDI Hub to develop their products and services. The focus is on developing evidence for investors. We will support ventures both within AT2030 (e.g. Innovate Now graduates and ATIF ventures) and beyond AT2030. Research will define the barriers to sustainable growth for ventures and will then target the toolkit and case studies to help overcome these. The project will develop testing toolkits for four domains: mobility products, hearing products, vision loss products and digital products and will aim to support a minimum of two ventures per domain. The aim is for entrepreneurs and early-stage ventures gain greater traction with follow-on investment, leading to overall increased investment into innovative AT products and ventures. Partners include: GDI Hub at UCL, UCL (CS), IIIT Bangalore, Microsoft Research Lab, IIT-Madras (Chenai) and IIT Delhi. This includes the creation of an interactive repository of assistive technology startups to provide more visibility to the ecosystem and developing an updated program and curriculum for impact driven strategic engagement with assistive technology startups and inclusive businesses.  

Systems Strengthening: Local Production Systems of AT:

Local production systems refers to the full value chain of AT (assistive technology) from design to manufacture to provision to repair. COVID-19 has demonstrated the fragility of the production and supply chains, and disrupted repair services for AT. There is an opportunity for a more sustainable approach to production powered by distributed manufacturing through a mixture of traditional and digital design and manufacturing systems.  This project will examine the evidence that local production systems are possible for AT in LMICs, and examine how we can develop resilient local production ecosystems. We will use global expertise to help facilitate local sustainability by developing rigour in areas such as quality manufacturing at scale. We start with Nepal as it has an advanced distributed manufacturing ecosystem and a local partner who has been working closely with GDI Hub through the COVID Action project. We will leverage this work and partnership, before moving to Kenya to demonstrate applicability in Africa.  Partners include: University of Nairobi, Zener Technologies, GDI Hub at UCL, UCL (CS), Operation Namaste, University of Southampton, Human Study 

More on GDI Accelerate

SP 5 was previously the Assistive Tech Impact Fund

ATIF selected innovators that have an increased likelihood to scale, addressing the highest need in African markets and demonstrating the need for continued investment in other low and middle income countries. Hear more on the challenges, learnings & mechanisms used in the AT Impact Fund Playbook - a window in to the venture experiences and a unique view into the fund itself.



  • The Story of Khadijatu Bangura

    March 31, 2024
    Sierra Leone

    Globally, there remains a significant need for affordable and comfortable prosthetics that can aid independence, inclusivity and health equity. This is particularly true in areas that have experienced conflict, and within lower/middle income countries. Working with governments, charities and other key partners on the ground to provide access to our prosthetics, in areas of the world that need them the most, is the focus of our dedicated Global Access Team. We have been lucky enough to secure a grant as part of the Assistive Technology Impact Fund (ATIF), under the banner of AT2030, which aims to increase access to assistive technology of all kinds, all over the world.

  • Spotlight on Sierra Leone – Meet Santos

    March 31, 2024
    Sierra Leone

    There is a significant need for prosthetics, coupled with a lack of access and also a strong stigma around having limb differences. Below is a video of Santos.

  • Screen shot of the journal publication Cover Image

    It's a Much Harder Journey: Scaling Assistive Technology Innovations to New Markets in Africa

    Global Disability Innovation Hub
    Jan. 30, 2024
    Academic Research Publications

    Access to Assistive Technology (AT) in Africa is severely limited, with less than 25% of those who need AT have access to it. This paper examines three cases illustrating the journey of scaling AT innovations in African markets to enhance access. Our methodology involves within-case and across-case analyses, highlighting the significant impact of contextual factors on assistive product design and service delivery.

  • Front cover of the report - with orange background and a man having his eyes tested Cover Image

    Wazi Impact Performance Snapshot

    March 29, 2023
    Case Studies and Reports

    Wazi were part of AT2030's Assistive Tech Impact Fund, using catalytic capital with expert-led venture-building, to unlock new solutions for scale, building AT ecosystems and driving change. This report, developed by 60Decibels, explores more about Wazi customers, their profiles, outcomes and experiences - looking at key performance and impact metrics to discover customer loyalty, feedback and overall impact to lives.

  • Two photos side-by-side of upper limb AT users. The one on the left is of a man standing with his prosthesis. The one on the right is of a man fitting his own prosthesis Cover Image

    Koalaa: an AT impact story

    Kate Mattick
    March 28, 2023
    Sierra Leone

    Between August and December 2022, 60 Decibels conducted a survey with 29 upper limb prosthetic users of the Koalaa product. They wanted to capture and understand the impact AT had on the users. This impact story shares these findings


Catherine Holloway

Catherine Holloway

Co-founder, Academic Director of GDI Hub and Associate Professor at UCL’s Interaction Centre.