British entrepreneurs are being challenged by the government to develop imaginative and creative technological adaptations in order to help Britain’s 12.2 million disabled people lead more independent lives.Globally, the accessible technologies market is worth $3bn, yet there’s a “serious gap in the British market” say ministers. One in five people in the UK have a disability and disabled people and their households have a spending power of over £200bn. Yet the development and manufacture of aids, adaptations and products for disabled people has not kept pace with the use of new technologies, like smartphones, GPS, plasma TVs, Kindles and the internet. The government’s Accessible Technology Prize aims to inspire technological innovation to assist disabled people in fields such as education, the home, leisure, transport and work. Ministers hope it will encourage more budding entrepreneurs to tap into a market predicted to be worth over £500m in Britain. “There’s a serious gap in the market at the moment in Britain in this sector and we want more entrepreneurs to focus on creating devices which help disabled people lead more independent lives,” says Mark Harper, Minister of State for Disabled People. “This is a vastly untapped multi-million pound market, which we want more business people to see the potential of.” The competition – which is the first of its kind and is run in conjunction with innovation charity Nesta – opens this week to entrants. Twenty five semi-finalists will receive a £6,000 contract to take their ideas forward. That will be whittled down to 10 finalists, who will each be awarded another £10,000 to develop their ideas into a prototype. The winning inventor will be announced in 2016 – with a £50,000 contract to take the idea to market. A particular focus will be on the use of new or emerging technologies. Design and manufacturing processes will be key features.
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