Meet Dr Martin Bone

Dr Martin Bone profile photo

As the inaugural Business Development Manager at the Disability Innovation Institute, Dr Martin Bone is working hard to establish the Institute and set in place the mechanisms for its future success. This includes setting up systems, engaging stakeholders and working with the team of Institute staff and academics. 

Bone’s background in biomedical engineering and project management has given him the perfect resume for his work at the Institute. “Essentially, my whole career has been about how best to design a solution for someone who has a long-term impairment and how we can make their lives easier,” he says. 

According to Bone, establishing the Institute at UNSW is an intelligent move because it offers a place to create synergies and cross disciplinary opportunities to the large number of researchers and PhD students (100 plus), already working in the field of disability.  

“It also provides a focal point for new ideas, researchers, industry and other organisations. We also don’t just want the Institute to work in the typical area of disability, we want people with disability to actively contribute to the design of research and teaching to ensure it is appropriate,” he says. 

“One of UNSW’s major strengths is the high level of engagement with people with disability that the University already drives,” Bone continues. “This hasn’t happened by accident; there’s a real feeling in the community that UNSW is trying to do the right thing and is already doing it well.”

According to Bone the potential of the Institute is limitless, and opportunities are coming from a variety of interesting quarters. One of the main points he is keen to reiterate, particularly to researchers at UNSW, is that it doesn’t matter whether you’ve worked in disability before or not. “We want people who don’t necessarily see themselves in this space to consider how they can engage with us,” he says. 
Bone gives the example of an engineer from UNSW’s Satellite Navigation and Positioning Laboratory, who has used his research on indoor positioning on mine sites on a project to provide directional advice for people with visual impairment through their smartphone. “If someone with a background in mining engineering can work with us, I’m fairly certain that researchers from across the spectrum can find a way to link in.” 

This is where the Institute’s seed funding comes in, explains Bone, who says the Institute has funding of $150,000 for a total of five projects to kick-start the Institute’s impact. “The funding has very broad selection criteria because we want to actively encourage people who haven’t thought about disability before, to think, ‘How might my research be applicable and how can people with disability contribute to the research to ensure that it is appropriate to them?’” Bone continues. This builds on the ethos of the disability community and the Institute: Nothing about us without us. 

“The next step will be to develop those projects so we’re building capacity and working more strategically and consistently in this space. Nearly 20% of the population has some form of impairment or disability, so it’s not just a small isolated minority this affects. I am looking forward to seeing these people represented in a better way through the Institute.” 

To discuss potential research projects or how you can engage with the Disability Innovation Institute contact Dr Martin Bone, Business Development Manager m.bone@unsw.edu.au