A start-up company has secured £1.4 million of funding for a new service that aims to get more people with learning disabilities regularly exercising.

Tendertec has partnered with the learning disability charity Hft to develop a new support service called FitBees. FitBees will enable people to wear sensors and other wearable technologies at home, providing motivational encouragement and community connections to support activity.

The funding for the project was provided by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) as part of the Healthy Ageing Challenge. With inactivity most acute in under-represented groups, such as those with learning disabilities, FitBees aims to make sure that investment in digital fitness support reaches those who need it most.

Providing people with learning disabilities with the same opportunities as everyone else

Hft is working with 10 people with learning disabilities who will try the technology and feedback on what works and what doesn’t. Emma Nichols, Personalised Technology Manager at Hft, said: “We need to understand more about people’s daily routines and how Fitbees might help people we support to be more active and more connected, ultimately becoming healthier and happier.”

Ms Nichols added that people with learning disabilities often struggle to access mainstream online platforms, and hopes the new service will enable this group to engage more with online fitness. She explains:

“There is a need for more platforms like FitBees that are easy to use and provide people with learning disabilities with the same opportunities as everyone else. We are really excited to be part of such an innovative and inclusive project where the people we support are playing a central role in the development Fitbees.”

Finding new ways to support people in a post-pandemic era

Dr Afroditi Konidari, CEO and Co-Founder at Tendertec, said the new service will not only improve the health of under-represented groups, but will also be beneficial to the economy since every £1 spent on community sport and physical activity generates nearly £4 for the UK economy.

She said: “We are honoured to be leading a consortium of partners that have the skills, experience and dedication to help under-represented groups overcome challenges to becoming more physically active.

“In the post-pandemic era, we need to find new ways to support people … especially those feeling marginalised, to become and remain physically active and socially connected. We are working closely with our consortium to bring a game-changing product into the digital fitness market.”