Photo: Mikal Schlosser

New technology must be designed for all

Tuesday 13 Aug 19


Marie Louise Møllebæk Pollmann-Larsen
Project Manager
DTU Skylab
+45 61 65 56 69

About the project

‘Technology leaving no one behind’ is a three-year project with a total budget of around EUR 1.5 million (DKK 11 million), with the Bevica Foundation contributing EUR 670,000 and DTU co-financing EUR 805,000.

As part of the project, a project manager is appointed at DTU Skylab to develop focused programmes both for start-ups that work specifically with solutions targeted at people with mobility impairments and broader programmes for start-ups and students who can be inspired by a more inclusive view on the development of new technologies.

DTU Management is also an important partner in the project. Here, a researcher on the project will work with research in and teaching of methods, tools, and cases across all DTU’s study programmes—in close collaboration with a professorship financed by the Bevica Foundation.

DTU will develop teaching, research, and entrepreneurship methods that live up to the Sustainable Development Goals principle of ‘Leaving no one behind’.

When developing new technology, already in connection with teaching activities and students’ projects—and subsequently research activities—it must be taken into account whether the technology can be of use for everyone—also for people with disabilities. In a new partnership with the Bevica Foundation, ‘Technology leaving no one behind’, DTU will develop methods to ensure that engineering students see inclusion and accessibility as a natural part of designing and developing new technical solutions.

“It’s key for DTU that new technology is developed in an inclusive and sustainable manner and with an eye for how differently abled people can access new technology. We are therefore looking forward to working with the Bevica Foundation on strengthening DTU’s focus on inclusive technology and universal design—both in research and education and in our innovation and entrepreneurship activities at DTU Skylab,” says Marianne Thellersen, Director for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Senior Vice President, who is a member of the project’s steering committee.

In recent years, DTU Skylab has been home to several student start-ups that have developed new technology for people with disabilities. These include the start-up Obital which has developed a technology based on eye tracking that allows people with mobility impairments to turn on machines, turn up the heat, or turn off the light in their home via their smartphones.

In the project with the Bevica Foundation, DTU will develop new methods and tools to support inclusive technology development, and the issue will be on the agenda at a number of annual competitions and events. DTU Skylab will strengthen the possibilities for testing, prototype development, and user validation in collaboration with relevant partners and ecosystems such as the House of the Disabled People’s Organisations Denmark.

User value in everyday life
Marianne Kofoed, director of the Bevica Foundation, is looking forward to the collaboration.

“We are very pleased to be able to roll out the ‘Leaving no one behind’ agenda at DTU, because at the end of the day, it’s about accommodating everyone. And we are convinced that it really makes a difference if we can get inclusive and universal design at the forefront of the minds of those who will develop new technical solutions and design the things we use every day,” she says.

Disabled people
Disabled People’s Organisation Denmark (DPOD) is a strategic partner in the project. The organisation will contribute with its vast knowledge and network within the field and help the students to collaborate with relevant users and member organisations.

“When you think outside the box with an inclusive and universal design—and when people with disabilities are involved in the development process, then we create a new world. A world where not only people with disabilities will have new opportunities to contribute, participate, and be part of society, but where inclusive and universal design also creates new opportunities for everyone,” says Sif Holst, vice-chair of DPOD, who is a member of the project’s steering committee.

‘Leaving no one behind’ is an overriding principle of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. DTU has decided that the University’s research and study programmes in sustainability, innovation, and entrepreneurship will be based on the Sustainable Development Goals. The project will therefore naturally be integrated into DTU’s strategic focus on the Sustainable Development Goals and social innovation.

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