Toyota Mobility Foundation, in partnership with Nesta Challenges, announces winner of $4 million global Mobility Unlimited Challenge in virtual event today, December 17th.

Phoenix Instinct, from the UK, wins $1 million in prize money to help bring its Phoenix i wheelchair to market. The winner’s announcement is a culmination of the three-year Mobility Unlimited Challenge which saw innovators from around the world submit game-changing technologies to improve mobility.

The ultralight wheelchair design was developed in partnership with academics at the University of the West of Scotland  via a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP).

Andrew Slorance at Phoenix Instinct said: “Working with UWS KTP partnership brought the company specialist skills, knowledge and University support that have been fundamental to the success of the project.  The KTP funding through Innovate UK is a fantastic programme that we recommend highly.

Winning the Toyota Mobility Unlimited Challenge is incredible for Phoenix Instinct and for wheelchair users. The wheelchair as we know it has been technologically unchanged for decades. The funding we received through the Challenge allowed us to prove smart technology makes for an easier to use and safer wheelchair with the potential for a suite of new features. With the prize money we can now advance this work and bring the Phoenix I wheelchair to the consumer.”

KTN specialist Knowledge Transfer Adviser on the project, Ian Heywood, commented “It is incredibly rewarding to see how KTP can help support innovative projects like this”.

Dr Tony Leslie, Senior Lecturer in the School of Computing, Engineering and Physical Sciences at UWS, added: “It has been a pleasure to work with Andrew Slorance and Dr Jakub Rycerz [the KTP Associate] on this KTP project. Andrew’s design is a step change in wheelchair development. Andrew has driven the project to ensure the project team never lost sight of how the ongoing design decisions could impact on wheelchair users in their daily lives, and that has been key to the project’s success.

…. Jakub’s contribution and commitment have been exceptional throughout the project, developing a number of innovations to ensure Andrew’s vision was realised. I look forward to seeing Phoenix i transforming the mindset of wheelchair designers and inspiring future global wheelchair development.”

The project was co-funded by Innovate UK and the Scottish Funding Council. KTP Programme manager at Innovate UK, Richard Lamb, said “I am thrilled that the team at Phoenix Instinct have won this award and that their KTP, funded jointly by Innovate UK and The Scottish Funding Council, has contributed to the design of their revolutionary wheelchair”.

Over to Stuart McKay, Senior KTP Manager at UWS: “I am delighted for the whole team behind this project, who, collectively, have developed this truly game-changing mobility solution, as well as delivering an exemplary Knowledge Transfer Partnership project. I am extremely proud of the role UWS has played in Phoenix Instinct’s success, from being selected to work with them on the initial bid concept, through to reaching the global final and securing $500k development funding more than a year ago.

Phoenix Instinct winning the Mobility Unlimited Challenge is the icing on the cake and testament to the hard work and dedication of everyone involved. We look forward to working with Phoenix Instinct in the future and already have plans for a second KTP.”

More details on the announcement are here.

Funding competitions for KTP are open throughout the year. If you think your business could benefit from academic collaboration to realise an innovation project, find out more here. 

Each KTP project is led by a KTP Associate. Find out more about the role here and see the latest vacancies here. 




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