£1.25million “SMART Suit” Funding Awarded to Partnership with SMA UK, Duchenne UK and the Inclusionaries Lab
19 May 2022
The People’s Postcode Lottery Dream Fund have awarded SMA UK, Duchenne UK and the Inclusionaries Lab at the University of Liverpool a grant of £1.25million to develop a “SMART Suit” for disabled people.
The Suit will be the first-of–its-kind exoskeleton suit that will help disabled teens and young adults use their arms and upper body. By restoring mobility, the SMART Suit aims to give people living with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) and other progressive conditions back their strength, independence and dignity.
The initial prototype was developed by Solid Biosciences (a life science company focused on developing transformative treatments to improve the lives of people with Duchenne) and there will now be much work put into advancing its development and strategy to bring this incredible product to market which will be led by Duchenne UK.
Angela Smith-Morgan, CEO of SMA UK says: “The prototype of the wearable suit will take three years to develop, and the SMA Community will be a key element in testing designs for suitability for a range of conditions. We are thrilled that the SMA Community will be playing key part in this development which will transform the lives of people living with SMA and other conditions.”
CEO of Duchenne UK, Emily Reuben said that, “despite incredible technological progress elsewhere, this is a problem that has gone without true innovation in the last 30 years. Because of this, people living with upper-limb disability face barriers in work, education, and their social lives.”
The Suit aims to be transformational for people living with neuromuscular conditions and will be designed to wear under clothes, replacing lost upper body strength.
Dr Farnaz Nickpour, Director of The Inclusionaries Lab at the University of Liverpool, says: "This is a unique and timely opportunity to address a long-term ‘wicked problem’ in the design and commercialisation of impactful and desirable solutions for important parts of our society currently disserved by innovation.
Through our innovative collaboration with Duchenne and SMA UK, we want to ensure advanced inclusive and human-centred design principles are embedded in the SMART Suit, and moreover, make our interdisciplinary approach and processes in this project, accessible and applicable in many other areas similarly in need of better more systemic solutions."
For further information and updates about the project, please see this page.