NSF News

NSF accelerates use-inspired solutions for persons with disabilities

NSF's Convergence Accelerator awards $11.8 million to 16 teams to develop solutions to enhance quality of life and employment opportunities for persons with disabilities

The U.S. National Science Foundation is building upon basic research to accelerate solutions that enhance opportunities for persons with disabilities. With an investment of $11.8 million, NSF’s Convergence Accelerator selected 16 multidisciplinary Phase 1 teams for the 2022 Cohort, Track H: Enhancing Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities.

An estimated 1.3 billion or 1 in 6 people globally experience significant disability, according to the World Health Organization. Persons with disabilities are hindered in their abilities to achieve better economic opportunities, quality of life, health and wellness.

"Transdisciplinary, use-inspired research offers tremendous potential to accelerate novel solutions to the everyday challenges faced by persons with disabilities," said Erwin Gianchandani, NSF assistant director for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships. "Through the Convergence Accelerator's Track H, we are bringing together diverse perspectives and expertise spanning academia, industry, nonprofits and other communities to enable solutions and open opportunities for people who need it most."

Phase 1 teams will develop new technologies and tools to enhance the quality of life and employment access and opportunities for persons with disabilities. At the end of Phase 1, teams submit a formal Phase 2 proposal and pitch for up to $5 million of additional support over 24 months to further develop their solutions and sustainability development plans.

"We are excited to welcome Track H teams into the Convergence Accelerator's portfolio," said Douglas Maughan, head of the NSF's Convergence Accelerator. "Over the next nine months, the teams will develop their initial idea into a proof of concept, identify new team members and partners, and participate in the program's innovation curriculum, which provides fundamentals in human-centered design; team science; use-inspired research; early-stage prototyping; and communications, storytelling and pitching.”

The awardees include:

Convergence Accelerator research tracks begin in the program's ideation process, gathering input from the community. Identified topics that meet the program's criteria are further developed through NSF-funded community workshops. The workshop findings are then used to assist NSF in selecting convergence research topics

Launched in 2019, the Convergence Accelerator — a Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships, or TIP, program — builds upon NSF's investment in basic research and discovery to accelerate solutions toward societal and economic impact. Convergence Accelerator multidisciplinary teams use convergence research fundamentals and innovation processes to stimulate innovative idea sharing and development of sustainable solutions.