Inclusive Technology Prize

Open Bionics has been named as one of the 25 innovations that will make the UK more accessible to the 1 in 5 people with disabilities.

25 designers and entrepreneurs have been shortlisted out of 200 pitches for the Inclusive Technology prize, and are now in with the chance to win a £50,000 prize for a technology, product or service that enables disabled people in the UK better access to life’s opportunities.

The Inclusive Technology prize judges said they were inspired by the inventive ideas put forward.

Joel Gibbard, Open Bionics CEO, said: "We decided to enter the Inclusive Technology prize because we want to make a difference with our 3D printed, robotic hands for amputees everywhere. We believe there's a huge need for affordable robotic prosthetics and we think we can help by using emerging technologies like 3D scanning and 3D printing to bring the cost down.

"We're not just focusing on the functionality of the device, we're focusing on making 3D printed hands that amputees will enjoy wearing. We want them to be fashionable, inspiring for children, and even have a few extra capabilities to one-up the human hand. We're constantly working with amputees to develop these desirable devices."

Human hand holding bionic hand

Inclusive Technology prize judge, Jess Thom, said: “Judging the competition so far has been inspiring, as there have been lots genuinely exciting products and inventive ideas that make the best use of technologies available to us, and can help to increase accessibility for the 12.2 million disabled people in the UK.”

The prize seeks to foster the next generation of assistive tools and technologies that will make a real difference to the 1 in 5 people living with limiting long term illness or disability in the UK.

The shortlist has been selected by a judging panel including comedians Jess Thom, who has Tourette’s syndrome, and Laurence Clark who has cerebral palsy, as well as Alan Norton, CEO of Assist charity and Liz Sayce, Chief Executive of Disability Rights UK among others. The shortlisted organisations and individuals will receive mentoring and support from Leonard Cheshire Disability, the UKs leading charity supporting disabled people.

Gemma Bull, Managing Director Enterprise and Innovation for Leonard Cheshire Disability, said: “We are very excited about working with Nesta and mentoring the competition entrants through the Inclusive Technology Prize. This is a fantastic opportunity to develop innovative technology which supports disabled people to lead more independent lives.”

The 25 semi-finalists take part in the mentoring stage of the competition in March, April and May this year, and ten finalists will be selected to develop prototypes ready for impact testing throughout 2015. The winner of the £50,000 contract will be announced in March 2016.

The challenge will encourage all semi-finalists to innovate through co-creation with disabled people, meeting needs as defined by the users themselves.

The Minister of State for Disabled People Mark Harper said: “Innovative technology can make a real difference to the lives of disabled people and I’m delighted that the Inclusive Technology Prize has inspired all of these cutting edge ideas.

“Supporting disabled people to live full lives and enjoy the same opportunities as everyone else is an absolute priority for us and I am confident that advances in technology will continue to enable us to do more. I wish all the nominees the best of luck.”

The full shortlist can be seen at

Open Bionics makes Top 50 robotics list

A South West startup has been ranked amongst Dyson, Google, and Panasonic as one of the Top 50 robotics companies to watch in 2015. 

The international RBR50 list named Open Bionics as one of the most noteworthy companies in the global robotics industry for 2015.

The Open Bionics Team

Chosen by the robotics community through the Robotics Business Review (RBR), RBR50 companies are recognized based on their innovation, groundbreaking application, commercial success and potential, and represent many different levels and facets of the robotics ecosystem.

Open Bionics was considered for their groundbreaking work into 3D printed robotic prosthetic hands.

Joel Gibbard, Open Bionics’ founder, said: “Looking at the list and seeing our startup’s name feels incredible. Pretty much every single company on the list is a company I have aspired to work for in the past and certainly aspire to match in their success in innovation in the future.”

This international compilation spans 11 countries and in addition to the large conglomerates, 20% of the list is comprised of lesser-known startups. The RBR50 list is dynamic, with robotics companies entering and leaving on an annual basis and thus creating a list that is indicative of where the global robotics industry as a whole is headed.

“2015: Year of the Inflection Point in robotics. What a great time to be counted among the global best in the fastest rising industry in the world. Once again, the robotics community has done a stellar job in selecting those few to represent all,” says Tom Green, RBR Editor in Chief.

With the robotics industry more competitive than ever, new companies are popping up all the time. Of those companies, the RBR50 list outlines those who should be kept on your business radar. 

This is the latest international recognition for the Bristol-based business after a string of recent award wins including ‘Best Product Innovation,’ at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Video: An early prototype being tested, the first time anyone has been fitted with a custom-fit robotic hand created with a 3D printer and 3D scanner. 

3D printed hand wins award

Open Bionics founder Joel Gibbard has won a prosthetic innovation award for his work developing 3D printed robotic hands for amputees.

The Limbless Association Prosthetic and Orthotics Awards recognise and reward outstanding contributions and achievements in the limb-loss and healthcare communities.

Joel was in a tightly fought category with Lee Duffy who is innovating prosthetic sockets by using natural plant fibre.

Awards judge and presenter Deborah Johnson, from sponsors Slater & Gordon, said the ceremony was an absolute pleasure and she was glad to see Joel pick up a prize.

Deborah said: “I had a very difficult job selecting a winner from the top class nominees but was delighted to be able to present the award for product innovation to Joel Gibbard of Open Bionics for his incredible work on 3D printed robotic prosthetic hands."

Stuart Holt, Limbless Association trustee, said he was happy to see Joel win and urged him to continue developing the 3D printed robotic hands.

Joel said: “We've come along way since we met the Limbless Association over a year ago. We've achieved a huge amount of innovation in the prosthetics sector since. This award is a magnificent validation of the work we've achieved so far and it inspires us to keep pushing forward. It feels great to be recognised and supported by the amputee community, they're driving this technology innovation as much as we are.”

The awards ceremony celebrated inspirational amputees, prosthetists, user groups, and innovators.

Founder of the Year Award

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While Open Bionics was in San Francisco pitching for half a million dollars, our founder Joel Gibbard was named 'Founder of the Year' at The Sparkies awards.

TechSpark set out to shine a light on the 'very best people, products and companies' that make up the tech sector in Bristol, Bath, and the broader West of England region.

The awards celebrate individuals and companies that champion and drive tech innovation in business.

As well as Joel winning 'Founder of the Year', his company Open Bionics made it as a finalist in two other categories.

For the 'Founder of the Year' award judges were looking for someone in the tech community who has consistently demonstrated a significant entrepreneurial spirit and whose digital activity has shown commitment, enthusiasm, success and achievement.

The judges said of Joel and Open Bionics: ‘Brilliant use of new technology to disrupt a tired old sector and transform lives by making prosthetics more capable, affordable and accessible. Joel combines technical brilliance with a positive social mission, making this a real example of entrepreneurship at its best.’

Joel was sad to have missed the annual tech event but had electronics engineer Patrick Brinson to pick up the award for him.

You can see the full list of winners and those nominated here: The Sparkies. 

TechSpark put together this video to celebrate Bristol and Bath's tech scene. Spot our founder and robot hand (we love the ending best).

Open Bionics is based in the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, a world leading research and innovation centre for robotics.

Prosthetic Innovation Award

Joel Gibbard has been shortlisted for an award celebrating innovation in the prosthetics industry.

Joel Gibbard Open Bionics robotic hand

Limbless Association, who provide support to amputees and the limb-loss community, will host the annual 'Prosthetic and Orthotic Awards' in London on December 3rd.

The awards recognize and reward outstanding contributions and achievements in the limb-loss and healthcare communities and the prosthetic and orthotic industry.

Awards' organiser Ed Pearce said: "I am personally really pleased to see that Joel and Open Bionics have been nominated for the award as they offer the  average amputee a high quality product at a more affordable price."

"We have had dozens of inspirational stories and outstanding candidates and I know the judges have had a difficult task with choosing the winners!"

The awards attract professionals who work in the prosthetics and orthotics industry as well as user groups and inspirational people with limb differences.

Joel Gibbard said: “The awards ceremony will be a fantastic evening. I'm looking forward to meeting the industry professionals and people from the limb-loss community so I can gather their thoughts on our project. There's going to be a room full of people with a lifetime of invaluable experiences and knowledge, so we're very grateful to have been included.”

Joel was nominated because of the work he is doing with Open Bionics. Joel is using new technologies to create affordable robotic hands for amputees that will change the healthcare industry.

Joel is focused on making current high-tech robotic hands that cost anywhere between $30,000 and $100,000 for as little as $1,000. 

Categories for awards include 'The Inspiration Award', 'Life Time Achievement Award', 'Outstanding Service by An Individual', 'Disabled Service Centre or Limb Fitting Centre Award', 'User or Support Group Achievement Award', and the 'Prosthetic Innovation Award'.

Open Bionics' big win from Intel

Open Bionics won $200,000 to continue developing bionic hands after finishing second place in Intel's wearable technology competition.

Intel Make it wearable winners open bionics

Founder Joel Gibbard said: "It has been an awesome experience learning from business experts and the other teams. We're far more customer focused now and the result is going to be a prosthetic that is perfectly suited to the needs of amputees. With the money we've now won we can complete the development of this device and get these hands on amputees."

“We totally believe this money will help to revolutionise the prosthetics industry with the use of 3D scanning and 3D printing technology.”

Joel added: “Team Nixie totally deserved the win, they are an amazing set of people who are using technology to open people's minds about what's possible. Likewise, ProGlove are a team of immense talent and I have no doubt that we will be seeing huge innovations from them in the future. It feels great that the winning teams were all from Europe and that we could represent Bristol and the UK.”

brian krzanich venus williams samantha payne joel gibbard

Open Bionics teammate Sammy Payne, said: "This competition has been incredible. We have come a long way and we're very grateful to the industry experts and mentors in Silicon Valley for their coaching and guidance. We've been overwhelmed with the messages of support from people who need bionic hands and we'll be using the $200,000 prize money to get these prosthetics to those people faster.”

“It feels particularly great as a woman because of the five women who were finalists, two walked away as winners. Both teams that placed first and second were the only teams that had women pitching. I think this speaks a lot to the technology and business industry."

"Having the CEO of Best Buy come over to congratulate me on our pitch was a bit surreal. He said he thought our ideas were amazing and it was great to have his support. It was also pretty fantastic when Stefan Olander from Nike stopped me to say hello and shake my hand. The judges seemed impressed with our pitch and offered some great advice." 

Open Bionics won the biggest applause of the evening when the team told judges their work was open source.

The company plans to use the money to get their 3D printed bionic hands fully developed and through medical testing and FDA approval.

The team is driven to create bionic hands that are affordable, comfortable to wear, and that look inspiring. 

Open Bionics is based inside the Bristol Robotics Laboratory in the UK, it is a world-leading centre for robotics and research. 

Feel free to join the chat, tweet @openbionics!

Open Bionics Pitching In The USA

Open Bionics won a place in a global wearable tech competition put on by Intel in August this year.

After being shortlisted from 400 startups in August, Open Bionics has now reached the final top ten.

open bionics intel

On Saturday Open Bionics will pitch to a panel of judges in San Francisco, including Venus Williams and the chairs of Nike, Best Buy, and Louis Vuitton, in a bid to win $500,000.

Founder Joel Gibbard wants to win the funding so he can develop affordable bionic hands and bring them to market. Joel particularly wants the money to begin developing creative children's hands for young amputees.

He hopes the judges will see how investing in this technology could make a real difference to thousands of amputees.

Joel, and his teammate Sammy Payne, are currently in California learning from UC Berkeley and Intel business mentors.

The competition, called Make It Wearable, is run by Intel and supported by UC Berkeley and Vice.

Here's the video Vice made of the team that has reached over 90,000 views:

The competition pushes startups through rigorous business mentoring, and a business incubation scheme.

Open Bionics is competing against two other teams from the UK. You can see a full list of the ten finalists and their inventions here. The lists includes a wearable selfie drone called Nixie:

intel logo with robotic hand

You can show your support for the team by tweeting @Openbionics and using the hashtag #MakeItWearable

Open Bionics Shortlisted for Tech Awards

TechSparkUK's SPARKies awards celebrate 'the best in west' in the world of technology, engineering, and digital creativity.

This year, judges had to whittle down over 220 nominations for the fourteen categories. The judges said candidates had to show a number of traits including 'digital creativity,' 'big ideas,' and 'ingenuity'.

Open Bionics made the shortlist for two of the categories and is in with a chance to win the 'Best Startup' award and the 'From Chips to...' award (a category that celebrates innovative uses of hardware).

Open Bionics founder, Joel Gibbard, was also shortlisted for the 'Founder / Entrepreneur of the Year' award. Check out the competition here: The Shortlist.

Rumour has it the awards ceremony will be hosted by Bath's leading comedian, Tom Craine.

It has been a good year for Open Bionics. The business has won a number of awards and grants and is currently in the running to win $500,000 from Intel's Make It Wearable competition.

If you want to receive the latest news (& videos of awesome robot hands) from Open Bionics sign up for our newsletter at the top of the page!

Open Bionics Nominated for Tech Awards

Open Bionics, The Open Hand Project, and our founder Joel Gibbard, have been nominated for three technology awards.

TechSparkUK recently broke the news that over 220 people, organisations, and businesses, across the South West have been nominated for the Sparkies awards.

Among those nominated are, Vouchercloud, Engine Shed,  fellow Bristol Robotics Laboratory start-up founder Silas Adekunle, and Bristol Braille Technology who are working to radically reduce the cost of expensive Braille displays.

Joel said: “Bristol has been recognised as a hub of engineering and technology excellence and it's fantastic to be a part of this growth.

The Sparkies awards give just a little insight into what is going on in the South West tech scene. I'm thrilled that my project, business, and work are included.

It's really great to see projects, that are using technology to better people's lives and make a real impact, recognised and nominated.”

These nominations came after Joel was named 'Young Design Engineer of The Year' at the British Engineering Excellence Awards.

Read what the TechSparkUK founder, David Maher Roberts, had to say about the awards in the Bristol Post (we even got a shout-out!): Sparkies are proof Bristol and Bath is already a world-class cluster

Wonder if it was the Adams Hand that caught their eye... 

Young Design Engineer of the Year Award

Open Bionics founder, Joel Gibbard, won a prestigious award last week at the British Engineering Excellence Awards.

The awards celebrate UK companies and individuals that have shown the skills, invention, and dedication to compete and succeed on an international stage within the engineering space.

Photo Credit:  BEEAs

Photo Credit: BEEAs

Joel was nominated for the Young Design Engineer of the Year award by a friend from his old employers, National Instruments (NI). NI played a huge supporting role in Joel's successful crowd-funding campaign for The Open Hand Project.

There were four young engineers short-listed for the award and the judges said it was the most 'tightly-fought' category.

Joel won the award for his low-cost 3D printed bionic hand innovation after lengthy deliberation from judges.

The judges said they were impressed by the open source nature of his work and that his design would hugely benefit many people.

Joel said: “I was lucky to have been nominated and feel even luckier to have won. The whole event inspired me to think of the future of engineering.

Advances in technology have the power to change lives for the better. It can be used for good on a huge scale and creative innovators are very much needed to push for this. Just think of the possibilities for future generations.”

Joel said he's keeping his trophy at home where he can keep an eye on it.

What the judges said of Joel: “A highly motivated, dedicated young engineer with multidisciplinary skills and an impressive record of achievement already.”