Lizzie Hunter

Global student innovation challenge winners announced

A mobility device that helps people with a disability and the elderly stand with ease and an innovative spoon design that helps adults and children with special needs to feel more independent during mealtimes, have taken out the top awards at the Global Student Innovation Challenge, held at the international i-CREATe 2019 conference in Canberra.

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The gold, silver and bronze winners of the Technology and Design categories were announced at the conference gala dinner, with the students in the challenge receiving significant praise from international experts and leaders in the rehabilitation and assistive technology field.

Congratulating the winners, Assistive Technology Australia CEO Robyn Chapman’s said the Global Student Innovation Challenge was highly competitive, attracting 44 entries from 12 nations.

“Every student involved in the challenge has shown great talent and abilities in the field of assistive technologies and it is heartening to see so many people committed to making a difference in the lives of others,” Chapman said. “The winning teams showed exceptional talent and skills, impressing the judges with their abilities to bring their concepts to market.

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“The Cork Institute of Technology, Ireland, team of Muireann Hickey, Kevin Hayes, Cian O’Leary and Jonathan Mullane were stand out leaders in the field of design and development, solving an everyday problem for people with limited mobility.

The Cork Institute of Technology team developed StrydeTech, a walking frame device that allows people to stand up independently by considerably reducing the stand-up effort. This reduction is achieved by lowering device handles to users seated waist height and as the frame rises, the user is assisted to standing position.

The StrydeTech team say their product’s ‘core function is to enable everyday activities, prolonging life; which is effectively priceless’. StrydeTech’s team won Gold in the Technology category of the awards.

Speaking to F2L, gold winner Muireann Hickey said the inspiration behind the StrydeTech came from the team’s family and friends.

“My grandmother has Alzheimer’s and can’t stand up by herself, but once she’s up she can make her way around independently,” she said. “When you can relate to the issue on a personal level, it becomes something that you really want to fix.

“We’re trying to get as much recognition and support as we can. Our product is meeting an international need; it doesn’t just help people walk, it has the ability to help people stand from a seated position and sit down. There is no other product available at our price and at that level of convenience.”

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University won gold in the design category of the awards for the Snaker Spoon—a twistable spoon for adults and children with special needs who wish to feel more independent during mealtimes. 

The Snaker Spoon team say their innovation ‘allows feeding without limitation and lets you have your own angles to feed in comparison with the current commercial angled utensils’. The design is also changeable, allowing it to work as a fork or knife.

The i-CREATe 2019 conference took place alongside the inaugural Canberra ATSA Independent Living Expo.

Photo caption: From left: Jonathan Ladd -Chair Assistive Technology Australia; Robyn Chapman CEO Assistive Technology Australia; Her Royal Highness, Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, Kingdom of Thailand; Gold Technology winners Muireann Hickey and Kevin Hayes; Karen Beard-Greer CEO Independent Living Charitable Trust New Zealand. Photo: Bradley Cummings

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