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Disabled entrepreneurs and new technology

21 July 2015

Salford project aims to boost numbers of disabled entrepreneurs

PRESS RELEASE

A new partnership between University of Salford academics, Disability Rights UK and University of Dundee is set to launch a series of events that will help disabled people enter the world of entrepreneurship.  

The ‘In the making’ project will focus on digital business and the ways in which disabled people can harness the power of new technology to create their own businesses.  Guests will have the chance to hear from business experts at digital business taster sessions, hear from industry leaders in product design and try out cutting edge 3D scanners and printers for themselves.

International 3D fabrication experts Fab Labs Manchester are one of the businesses that will be in attendance to help give attendees a taste of the latest digital technology. Fab Lab staff will be on hand to help people create new products and prototypes ranging from musical instruments and furniture, to jewellery and artwork. 

Digital fabrication is growing in popularity. It allows anyone with a computer and a 3-D printer to produce three-dimensional objects from computer files – and these files can be sent and downloaded from anywhere in the world.

The first ‘In the making’ event will be hosted by the BBC at Quay House in the heart of MediaCityUK on Wednesday 29 and Thursday 30 July 2015 from 9am until 1pm.  Following this event the project will go on the road around Salford; heading to Eccles, Swinton, Walkden and Irlam. 

Speaking ahead of the first event the University of Salford’s Dr Ursula Hurley, the ‘In the making’ project leader said: “Everyone involved in this project is incredibly excited about the launch of our first event at MediaCityUK and for our Salford Roadshow.  The digital technology boom has opened the door to a new generation of entrepreneurs and we don’t see why disabled people should not be at the forefront of this.”

“New technology has helped disabled people improve their lives and many disabled people have more interaction with new technologies than the rest of the population.  This means they are at an advantage and understand keenly how technology can radically improve lives.  This knowledge and understanding can and should be harnessed, that what our Digital Fabrication Project is all about.”   

Philip Connolly of Disability Rights UK said: “At the heart of this project lies a disruptive proposition. If, in 1985, young unemployed disabled people had been trained in the use of personal computers then probably by 1990 they would be the ones in jobs helping companies to digitalise their services. Fast forward to 2015. Imagine if young unemployed disabled people had first access to the technology that will drive development and manufacturing in 2020. They could be not just the ones in jobs, but also driving the economy.”

Nick Taylor from the University of Dundee added:

“Already we’ve seen many inspiring examples of makerspaces playing an important and transformative role in the lives of the people using them. As well as the potential economic benefits, being involved with these emerging technologies has the ability to unlock people’s creativity and draw them into a community of making and learning with benefits to their wellbeing. There is a huge untapped potential to support disabled people in a variety of ways.”

Details of the project, which has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, are available from www.inthemaking.org.uk.

ENDS

For further information, please contact Ross MacRae at University of Salford on R.D.Macrae@salford.ac.uk or 0161 295 6363; Ben Furner at Disability Rights UK on Ben@furnercommunications.co.uk or 01273 463461; Roddy Isles at the University of Dundee on r.isles@dundee.ac.uk or 01382 384910