Innovation has always been key in the treatment of cerebral palsy (CP). Access to innovative new technologies and assistive products can also have a powerful effect on people’s independence and quality of life.
The first in the assistive technology field, A3i is a disability-specific technology accelerator that nurtures and supports innovative high-tech entrepreneurs who are developing solutions for people with disabilities.
A3i manager Shira Gal explains, “We recognise the powerful potential of technology for people with disabilities, but we identify many unanswered needs. We are here to encourage, train, guide and mentor entrepreneurs with an innovative ideas that can make a difference in the lives of people with disabilities”.
“There are many accelerator programs but none in the field of assistive technology. No accelerator around has the professional knowledge in the field, the ability in connecting ventures to pilots, or providing assistance in the implementation and integration process,” she said.
A3i’s particular focus is on both individual entrepreneurs and organisations who are committed and dedicated to developing an innovative idea in assistive technology, one that that has international market potential.
Their most successful graduates have successfully developed products and services that are available today.
A3i offers intense training, mentorship, one-on-one consulting, and the opportunity to take an active part in Israel’s entrepreneurial ecosystem
The technology start-up community is growing rapidly, but A3i was the first accelerator to concentrate on ‘ability tech’ – employing technology to develop solutions that help people with disabilities lead more independent lives.
A perfect example is Sesame Enable, a graduate of the first round of A3i in 2014. They developed a touch free smart phone that allows users to open up applications and make calls using head movement. It is designed for individuals who are almost totally paralysed.
The Sesame device is extremely sensitive and can detect slight head gestures to trigger actions, for apps and activities where voice is inappropriate. It was awarded the top prize in a worldwide contest sponsored by US telecom giant Verizon, in which the company searched out top technologies to help people live better lives.
Another A3i graduate is Abilisense, an app that can help people with hearing problems understand their surroundings by translating sounds into alerts. It helps people in any setting, from work to school to day-to-day life.
A3i choose to work with those that they think have the best chance to really make a difference.
Shira’s advice for anyone else wanting to start an accelerator program is to get to know the ecosystem around him or her first.
“Investigate the profile of entrepreneurs in this field, find out the options for entrepreneurs in this field, their needs, funding alternatives, etc. Only then can you design the right accelerator program,” she said.
Long term, A3i will continue to innovate – engaging more entrepreneurs, investors, companies and government to make assistive technology the most relevant topic in Israel.
There is no doubt that A3i is leading the way in ‘ability’ technology, improving the lives of so many with disability.
Postscript: Cerebral Palsy Alliance in Australia has now also launched a technology accelerator called Remarkable.