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Toyota Mobility Foundation launches $4 million global Mobility Unlimited Challenge

The Toyota Mobility Foundation in partnership with Nesta’s Challenge Prize Centre have launched a life-changing initiative to change the lives of people with lower-limb paralysis.

The Toyota Mobility Foundation in partnership with Nesta’s Challenge Prize Centre have launched a life-changing initiative to change the lives of people with lower-limb paralysis. The two have launched a $4 million dollar global Mobility Unlimited Challenge, with the winners announced in a ceremony in Tokyo in 2020.

The Challenge is seeking teams of innovators to create game-changing technology that will help radically improve the mobility and independence of those with lower-limb paralysis. The aim of the Challenge is to harness creative thinking from across the world to accelerate innovation and encourage collaboration with users to find winning devices to transform the world for people with lower-limb paralysis.

The mobility solutions of the future could include anything from exoskeletons, to artificial intelligence and machine learning, from cloud computing to batteries.

The Mobility Unlimited Challenge Prize is supported by a number of ambassadors from around the world, all of whom have experience of living with lower-limb paralysis. Global ambassadors include; 

— Aki Taguchi, Director, Paralympian Association of Japan 

— August de los Reyes, Head of Design at Pinterest 

— Yinka Shonibare MBE, Turner Prize nominated British/Nigerian artist 

— Sandra Khumalo, South African rower 

— Preethi Srinivasan, Indian athlete and campaigner 

— Sophie Morgan, British TV presenter 

— Tatyana McFadden, USS track and field athlete 

— Dr. Rory A Cooper, director of the Human Engineering Research Laboratories at the University of Pittsburgh


The Challenge is open to all designers, engineers and technologists. As part of the Challenge, the Mobility Foundation has created the Discovery Awards which will provide means-tested seed funding of $50,000 for ten groups with promising concepts, who might otherwise lack the resources to enter the main Challenge. Recipients of these grants will use the funds to develop credible entries to the Challenge. The closing date for the Discovery Awards is February 7th, with the deadline for all other entries being August 15th.


A panel of expert judges will pick five finalists who will each receive $500,000 to take their concepts from an intelligent insight to a prototype. The Challenge winner will receive $1,000,000 to make the device available to users – with the winning concept unveiled in Tokyo in 2020.

Both the global Mobility Unlimited Challenge and Toyota Ireland’s announcement as the Official Partner of the 2020 Irish Paralympics Team are Toyota Ireland’s notable examples of coming to life through the ‘Built for a Better World’ brand purpose.

Julie Ann Burandt, Global Communications Manager, Toyota Mobility Foundation said “Personal mobility devices can help overcome some major barriers in life for people, however, at present they do not fully meet the needs of user’s due to limitations in functionality and usability. We know people could benefit from technologies and innovations from outside the assistive technology field, as well as from greater support to those in the field. That is exactly what we want to do with the Mobility Unlimited Challenge, and hopefully change people’s lives.”

Steve Tormey, Chief Executive, Toyota Ireland added; “According to Spinal Injuries Ireland there are over 1,800 people living with spinal cord injury in Ireland, and there are many more with lower-limb paralysis that are striving for a better way of living. We look forward to seeing the difference this initiative can make to people and encourage those with ideas here in Ireland to apply.”

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