According to the World Health Organization, more than 1 billion people globally need one or more assistive products. The problem is that only 1 in 10 people have access to these devices. With an ageing population, the number of people requiring assistive devices is expected to rise to more than 2 billion by 2030.
In Australia, the most recent publication of the Digital Inclusion Index shows the gap in digital inclusion for people with disability is widening.
On the flipside, start-up accelerator Remarkable (a division of Cerebral Palsy Alliance) is an organisation at work harnessing the power of technological innovation designed to drive the inclusion of people with disability.
This cutting-edge organisation is out to harness the massive opportunities that exist in emerging technologies like sensor technology, robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) to overcome the barriers that disable people in society.
Since its inception in 2016, Remarkable has powered-up 19 start-ups, already changing the lives of thousands of people with disability.
Founder, Pete Horsley, says that people with disability are often left behind, or left out, as creators and consumers of technology.
But he proudly goes on to emphasise the great innovations coming from people who have themselves been clients of the Cerebral Palsy Alliance, and who are now working to help others overcome their challenges.
Riley Saban and his dad, Clint, are founding a company called PolySpine. Riley first came to Cerebral Palsy Alliance when he was 3 years old and is a big fan of technology. In 2016, he was featured in Australia’s ABC docuseries Becoming Superhuman.
Now Riley and Clint have teamed up to create a new product.
Pete says it’s a great achievement that people living with disability are now working with Remarkable to make the disability ecosystem and market even better.
He points to a second example in Danny and Jess Hui who have founded a company called sameview.
The youngest member of the Hui family, Monty, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, hydrocephalus, unilateral hearing loss and low muscle tone. Juggling therapists, doctors, surgeries and maintaining a good family life had become a substantial challenge, and life was hard for the young family.
So, they created sameview, a platform to give families the confidence to thrive; a platform all about making disability care coordination easier and better.
The platform enables families to easily share information with everyone in their care and support team, so they don’t have to keep telling the same story. More than that, it puts everyone involved in a person’s care on the same page, fostering collaboration and better outcomes.
Both PolySpine and sameview have just started their journey through Remarkable’s 16-week accelerator program.
The accelerator program equips early-stage companies with:
- $35,000 seed funding
- weekly masterclasses
- pitch coaching
- co-working space at the Sydney Startup Hub
- access to corporate and investor networks.
Pete tells us that one in five people globally are living with disability, emphasising that consequently the potential market for disability technology is roughly the size of China.
“It’s not hard to imagine the way that assistive technologies like powered wheelchairs or hearing aids have been enabling people.
“But right now, there is significant opportunity to further leverage technological innovation to drive an inclusive future,” he says.
Remarkable is Australia’s first impact accelerator with a specific focus on improving the lives of people with disability.
Itself a start-up, Remarkable grew out of the Australian first ‘Enabled by Design-athon’ which was organised by Cerebral Palsy Alliance in 2014 with partners NSW Family and Community Services (FACS), FutureGov, Enabled by Design and the University of Technology Sydney.
This exceptional organisation is:
- empowering people with disability as entrepreneurs
- accelerating early stage start-ups that develop inclusive tech products
- creating a purpose-driven network of experts, mentors, techies and investors all working for inclusion
- equipping existing business to invest in designing inclusive-tech solutions.
Other start-ups that have succeeded as a result of the Remarkable Accelerator program include:
- Lusio Rehab – wearable devices and gaming platform for physical rehabilitation
- Wheeleasy – online platform for crowdsourced and curated accessibility information
- Equal Reality – diversity and inclusion training through virtual reality
- Better Goals – mobile assistant for people with intellectual disability
- AbilityMade – 3D printed and fully customised assistive technology devices
- Abili.io – real-time journey planning for accessible travel
- Aubot – telepresence robots enabling independence at school, work and home
- Hearoes – auditory training games for cochlear implants and hearing aids
- Enabler – gamified training for disability support workers using 3D simulations
- Home Care Heroes – companionship services marketplace for disability and aged care
- Sound Scouts – mobile gaming platform for early stage detection of hearing loss
- DiversityX – employment coaching platform for people with disability.
For more information on criteria and to apply for the next Remarkable Accelerator program, visit: remarkable.org.au/accelerator/