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5 Kenyan start-ups emerge as finalists in UK aid funded Innovate Now accelerator programme ▷ Kenya News

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– The five start-ups were picked from a total of 30 applicants who presented their assistive technology solutions

– The Innovate Now accelerator programme will support entrepreneurs through expert mentorship

– Upon completion of the mentorship program, successful businesses in each cohort will stand an opportunity to get up-to KSh 2.7 million funding to scale up their enterprises.

Global Disability Innovation Hub and Amref Enterprises Limited have unveiled five local entrepreneurs selected as finalists to the first cohort of the Innovate Now accelerator programme.

The five start-ups were picked from a total of 30 applicants who presented their assistive technology solutions to improve the overall wellbeing of persons with disabilities.

READ ALSO: Tears of joy as mum hears son speak for the first time in 19 years

Innovator Lincoln Wamae shows Senator Isaac Mwaura how to use his modified electric wheelchair during the unveiling of the Innovate Now accelerator programme finalists. Photo: Amref.
Source: UGC

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The start-ups were unveiled on Tuesday, December 3, as the world celebrated the international day of persons with disabilities.

The Innovate Now accelerator will support entrepreneurs through expert mentorship, user-centred design, user-testing through a network of Live Labs, as well as access to seed funding.

Techpreneur John Odour shows head of DFID Kenya Julius Court an eye testing innovation during the unveiling of the finalists of Innovate Now. Photo: Amref.
Source: UGC

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Innovate Now is part of the UK aid funded AT2030 Programme and is Africa’s first assistive technology innovation ecosystem and start-up accelerator.

During the next three years, it will support 60 start-ups a quarter of which will track to scale.

The finalists include Vijana Reloaded, a start-up involved in eye testing, fitting and glasses sale and distribution; Hope Tech plus, which creates small handheld devices that use sensors to detect obstacles and give feedback to the user through different vibration patterns and Linccel Technologies, which makes electric wheelchairs to aid in mobility.

Others are Syna Consultancy that has developed a portable commode-like toilet that equips persons with disabilities with an accessible, dignified and hygienic toilet as well as help elevate their social status and boost their self-esteem, and Toto SciLTD, which has created an intelligent smart stick that allows users to call for help at the click of a button.

“We have entrepreneurs in this Assistive Technology space. However, the majority of the businesses fail not because they are bad ideas, but because they lack funding since investors are unwilling to engage in businesses that have undefined costs and undetermined demand,” Bernard Chiira, the Innovate Now director said.

We are certain that this accelerator program will help increase the demand for these technologies and ultimately help the businesses grow.”

Selected through a judging process, the finalists will go through an intensive six months training and mentorship program, which will give them exposure to international investors and access to test facilities through live labs network that allow rapid Assistive Technology testing and feedback so as to ensure that the users of the innovations are at the heart of the product and service development.

With statistics showing that close to one 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 that exists between persons with disabilities and their access to assistive technologies.

The program will also bring to light, discussions surrounding the plight of persons with disabilities.

“The conversations on the plight of persons with disabilities have been ongoing. The lack of access to assistive technologies by those who need them has resulted in communication barriers, which ought to be broken,” Cathy Holloway, Lead Judge of Innovate Now and academic director at the Global Disability Innovation Hub said.

“One great way to break these barriers is to deal with the stigma surrounding disability to create demand for these products, and this will encourage investors to be part of these technologies.”

Upon completion of the mentorship program, successful businesses in each cohort will stand an opportunity to get up-to KSh 2.7 million funding to scale up their enterprises.

Do you have a groundbreaking story you would like us to publish? Please reach us through news@tuko.co.ke or WhatsApp: 0732482690. Contact Tuko.co.ke instantly.

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