Innovate Now, Africa’s first Assistive Technology (AT) Accelerator held its latest showcase of Assistive Tech (AT). This pitch event provided a platform for founders to create awareness of their AT solutions, which address challenges faced by persons with disabilities, with Deaf Outreach Program awarded the Best Assistive Technology Innovation for their inclusive learning platform for children with hearing impairment between the ages of five to eighteen.
Seven ventures – Cresnet VR, Advanced Prosthetics, Braille Board, Deaf Outreach Program , Celo-Care Technologies, Hypnagogic React and SeizureAssistant from Zambia – pitched to an audience of users, investors, strategic partners and judges who included Michelle Mboha, an investment manager at Inua Capital,Jonas Tesfu, founding trustee at Pangea accelerator, Julius Mbura, an accessibility and advocacy expert at inABLE and Ben Hardman, Head of innovations ecosystem at Global Disability Innovation Hub.
The winner of the day was,Deaf Outreach Program (DEAFOP) based in Kenya and founded by Ann Gloria Njoki, offering an inclusive learning platform through a learning management system (LMS) for children with hearing impairment between the ages of five to eighteen. The platform is a repository of developed sign language educational curriculum content for primary and high school students. The content is accredited by the Ministry of Education in Kenya and is accessible online and offline through a mobile based application. The organisation has already onboarded 3 high schools with 150 learners. Speaking afterwards Ann said;
“As Deaf Outreach Program we are grateful to have been selected to participate in Cohort 6 and wining the best AT innovation Award 2022, this proves the possibility of bridging communication and learning gap for Deaf learners and the innovation scale up will positively impact the learning Outcome of Deaf learners”.
Ann Gloria Njoki.
The first runner up was, Hypnagogic React, is a South African based company, co-founded by Stephan and Chantelle Hattingh. Their solution which is still in the development phase is a mobile application that connects the smartwatch and smartphone to automate actions when one falls asleep or wakes up.Automatic outcomes include; the pausing of podcasts/audiobooks, readjusting central heating, and switching on and off smart home devices. This inclusive solution is especially useful to people who are paraplegic or quadriplegic, it allows them to operate with increased independence when limited or no help is available. The results are improved livelihood, mental wellness, and general well-being.
The second runner up, Purple Glow Foundation, is a Zambian based organisation, founded by Bright M Bwalya . Their innovation, Seizure assistant is a health management and experience sharing platform which educates about Epilepsy while allowing people with Epilepsy to get help in times of need, alerting a loved one and those around.
The most promising assistive technology innovation was awarded to Braille Board, a Kenyan-based innovation, founded by Tito Masinde. Braille Board is solving cost and accessibility challenges for students with visual impairment who cannot access books in braille in their libraries because current solutions are either too expensive, error prone or bulkier. The venture is developing a portable system of actuators which are placed on the fingers to help the blind read braille affordably and accurately. The audience also had a chance to vote for the most impactful innovation.
The event started with a welcome note from the Director at Innovate Now, Bernard Chiira who said
“I am delighted and very proud of every Start up team completing cohort 6, our most diverse yet with representation from four African countries. Demo day is just but the beginning of the assistive technology entrepreneurship journey. We look forward to continuing walking the rest of the journey as they go-to-market. We are grateful for the catalytic funding by the Norwegian Agency for Development (NORAD), and invite both philanthropic and early-stage impact investors to join us. Together, we will make access to affordable assistive technology possible, unlocking unlimited potential for independence, wellbeing, education and employment of persons with disabilities across Africa and the world”.
Bernard Chiira Director Innovate Now.
The Head of Innovation Ecosystem at Global Disability Innovations Hub, Ben Hardman also attended the event, speaking he was quick to note that assistive technology innovations are life-changing for PWDs. Other life-changing AT innovations include; Cresnet VR, founded by Dennis Moogi which uses virtual learning technology to offer differentiated and personalised learning experiences for learners with disabilities in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions. Celo-Care Technologies founded by Joan Mohammed designs and fabricates manual, automated and standing wheelchairs, hospital wheel beds and also offers maintenance and repair services for the same. The company sells their products online. Advanced Prosthetics and Orthotics Care Centre founded by Peter Mwangi solves the dilemma of uncomfortable prosthetic sockets for all limb wearers by introducing the use of 3D Print-Ability to our Health Care Service provision. Innovate Now is currently accepting applications for Cohort 7. Interested innovators to apply on the Innovate Now website.
NOTES TO THE EDITOR
About Innovate Now
Innovate Now is Africa’s first assistive technology (AT) accelerator, powered by GDI Hub and hosted by Kilimanjaro Blind Trust Africa, in Nairobi Kenya. It was launched in 2019 and to-date has supported more than 60 AT founders, 35 AT ventures and delivered more than 600 hours of mentoring and coaching across 6 cohorts. Our founders are spread across Kenya,Tanzania Uganda, Nigeria, South Africa and the United States, forming one of the fastest growing and largest AT start-up ecosystems in the world.
About Global Disability Innovation Hub
Global Disability Innovation Hub Global Disability Innovation Hub (GDI Hub) is a world leading research and practice centre driving disability innovation for a fairer world. Operational in 41 countries, with more than 70 partners, GDI Hub has reached more than 28 million people since launching in 2016.
For more information about the accelerator, visit our website: www.atinnovatenow.com
For more information, kindly contact:
Email: [email protected]
Program Director – Innovate Now
Kenya Country Representative – Global Disability Innovation Hub