Innovate Now Accelerator Programme Cohort 3 Kicks Off

by Noah Wekesa

African Inclusive Employment Innovators selected for the Third Cohort at Innovate Now

NAIROBI – 25 November 2020: Innovate Now, Africa’s leading Assistive Technology (AT) Accelerator has selected five start-ups to participate in its third cohort, which will run for the next three months. This follows Innovate Now’s third call for applications from innovators across the African continent to develop technologies and services designed to assist people living with disabilities around the theme of the ‘‘Future of Inclusive Employment.’’

Led by the Global Disability Innovation Hub (GDI Hub) as part of the UK aid funded AT2030 Programme, Innovate Now is implemented by Amref Enterprises Limited (AEL). This themed cohort will be delivered in partnership with Innovation to Inclusion (i2i), an inclusive employment programme managed by a consortium led by pan disability charity, Leonard Cheshire and also funded by UK aid.

Director of Innovate Now Bernard Chiira says, “Our third cohort will focus on Assistive Technology as a driver for inclusive employment. I am certain that the five start-ups we have selected for their outstanding assistive technology solutions for the workplace.”

Angel Perez, Leonard Cheshire’s Senior Technology and Innovation lead says, “The i2i programme is testing an inclusive and accessible digital employment pathway in Kenya. This innovative solution is designed to support assessment, upskilling and job matching for at least 3000 persons with disabilities. As part of our partnership with the AT2030 programme, we are supporting innovators to develop assistive technology and digital solutions, which eliminate barriers along the pathway and promote inclusive workplaces so persons with disabilities will be economically empowered.”

Cathy Holloway, Professor of Interaction Design & Innovation, UCLIC and Academic Director, GDI Hub says, “Assistive Technology is the key to employment. AT empowers human capability. Today, this cohort has the opportunity to transform how that AT reaches people and how it makes their employment journey more accessible.”

With ambitions to support 40 start-ups, the programme has already seen two successful cohorts around mobile solutions and general Assistive Technology. The ‘Future of Inclusive Employment’ cohort will support start-ups who leverage digital platforms to match people with disabilities with job opportunities, accessibility products to improve the work environment and start-ups who creatively finance Assistive Technology through employers.

The accelerator will until late January 2021 provide a hands-on approach, delivering curriculum implementation, expert mentorship and user research through a Live Labs network to accelerate scalable assistive technologies.

This new cohort comes in quick succession after five start-ups graduated from Cohort 2, with Heroes on Demand (now Ufasiri Halisi SLI Innovations) emerging as the overall winner and gaining the recognition as “The One to Watch” and Lugha Ishara winning an award titled, “The Most Improved”.

With statistics showing that close to a billion people globally do not have access to Assistive Technology and the gap is likely to double by 2050, the Accelerator Programme seeks to close the gap between persons with disabilities and their access to assistive technologies. The programme will also bring to light, discussions surrounding the plight of persons with disabilities.

[ENDS]

About Innovate Now

The Innovate Now project provides advanced user-centred design, business and technical support to over 40 start-ups to develop assistive technology innovations, products and services. Innovate Now was launched in June 2019 and is funded by UK Aid and led by the Global Disability Innovation Hub (GDI Hub) and is being implemented by Amref Health Innovations (AHI) in Kenya.

About AT2030

The AT2030 programme will test, over five years, “what works” to improve access to AT and will invest £20m to support solutions to scale. With a focus on innovative products, new service models, and global capacity support, the programme will reach 9 million people directly and 6 million more indirectly to enable a lifetime of potential through life-changing Assistive Technology. AT2030 is led by the Global Disability Innovation Hub and is funded by UK aid from the UK Government.

About i2i

i2i is a three-year programme designed to develop, test, validate, and share learning from interventions that will directly improve access to waged employment in the private sector for women and men with disabilities. It will demonstrate the potential for change by identifying the most successful interventions that strengthen the disability ecosystem. The programme will be implemented in Kenya and Bangladesh, and started in 2019.

About Amref Enterprises Limited

Amref Enterprises Limited (AEL) is the social enterprise arm of Amref Health Africa, the largest Africa-based international NGO. AEL is responsible for delivering sustainable social value through incubation and commercialisation of innovative solutions, conceptualised and developed throughout the organisation. AHIs works to strengthen the primary health care system, in line with Amref Health Africa’s vision of creating lasting health change in Africa.

For more information, kindly contact:

Bernard Chiira

Director-Innovate Now

[email protected]

Amref Health Africa

Elizabeth (Lizz) Ntonjira

Global Communication Director

[email protected]

Amref Health Africa

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