What's next for design at Motivation? Read how we're using technology for better wheelchair provision.

The opportunities offered by innovative design are truly exciting for the development sector. Powered by advancing technology, it helps us make a bigger and bolder impact on the lives of people and communities across the world.

From our earliest days Motivation has pioneered the view that design innovation is key to improving the manufacture and provision of wheelchairs. We know that the right wheelchair doesn’t just offer mobility, but needs to be fitted correctly, and in a way that meets the individual’s unique needs and their environment. Even more than that, a well-designed chair can lead to more confidence and better self-esteem.

Our Rough Terrain wheelchair disrupted the sector from the outset. It showed how clever changes to design, including three wheels and a longer chassis, can answer specific environmental challenges faced by users, rather than taking a ‘one size fits all’ approach.

Over the last two years, our design team has taken this disruptive approach one step further. With funding from Google.org, we ran a pilot to test how 3D printing and digital technology could radically transform the way wheelchairs are fitted to those who need them most. For just £15 ($20) of materials, we saw that made-to-measure postural support devices could make adjustments to wheelchairs that made them customisable, sustainable, easy to maintain and locally produced.

Now we’re taking this project to the next level.

With seed funding from the Department for International Development, Motivation is part of a programme to drive innovation and increase access to assistive technology. AT:2030 is led by the Global Disability Innovation Hub based at UCL. Focusing on research and project testing, programme partners will learn how to scale up what really works. Together we aim to reach 3 million people by 2030.

Motivation’s work sits in the ‘Spark’ design and innovation category – taking a market-led, user-based approach as we invent new solutions to disability challenges through creative experimentation.

Our goals?

To put technology, investment and skills back into the hands of local manufacturers and clinicians.

To use advancing technology to create a chair that is tuned to the shape of the individual user and the needs of their environment.

To reduce the costs and time delays caused by international shipping to developing countries.

To set a higher standard for wheelchair provision than can be achieved by importing mass manufactured, out-of-the-box chairs.

To give an extra layer of care to every wheelchair user through bespoke fitting and services. 

By harnessing the possibilities of computer-aided design, 3D printing, communications technology and – of course – the hands of skilled clinicians, we are moving towards a day when a wheelchair of any size and any shape can be provided to any person.

Follow our journey as we work towards this vision. #MotivationInnovATe #ATchangedmylife

If you would like more information – or to support us as we develop this project – please contact Joanna Hall on [email protected]

Motivation InnovATe is part-funded with UK aid from the UK government through the AT:2030 project.