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ACCELERATION

Disability innovation hub to fund Nairobi start-ups

Funding assistive tech

In Summary

• The programme that will serve as the world’s first Assistive Technology Innovation Accelerator dubbed as Innovate Now.

• It will include provision for screening and training tools, procurement of equipment needed and identification of population for the AT.

Global Disability Innovation Hub academic director Cathy Holloway during the launch of the world’s first Assistive Technology Innovation Accelerator, Innovate Now at the University of Nairobi.
Global Disability Innovation Hub academic director Cathy Holloway during the launch of the world’s first Assistive Technology Innovation Accelerator, Innovate Now at the University of Nairobi.
Image: COURTESY

Global Disability Innovation Hub has partnered with the University of Nairobi and Amref Health to create an innovation ecosystem to support people with disabilities (PWDs).

The programme will support start-ups and students in the creation of Assistive Technologies including electric wheelchairs, smart apps among other machines.

The fund will provide up to 80 per cent investment, of 100,000 pounds (Sh12.8 million) to companies and 10,000 pounds (Sh1.28 million) for students.

 

GDIH academic director Cathy Holloway said Kenya has a thriving innovation but it is not inclusive.

“There are no early adopters for Assistive Technology as with other innovations,” Holloway said.

The programme that will serve as the world’s first Assistive Technology Innovation Accelerator dubbed as Innovate Now, was launched ahead of the Nairobi Innovation Week to propel the agenda on inclusivity in the sector over the coming five years.

It will include provision for screening and training tools, procurement of equipment needed and identification of population for the AT.

“I have seen many AT start-up's fail because they don’t have the right support. We can't wait to get going. AT means access to dignified livelihoods, work, social and economic participation,” Innovate Now director Bernard Chiira said.

According to vice-chairman Association for the Physically Disabled of Kenya Lumbi Wa M'Nabea the cost of embracing technology for example software in universities by the community has become high.

“There has been progress. However, there is a need for more to be done for PWD to compete at the same level field without asking for help,” Lumbi said.

 
 

The initiative is part of the £20m (Sh2.56 billion) under AT2030 programme, funding by UKAID which aims to reach over 3 million people, through testing new approaches to get AT to those who need it around the world.

The programme will also aim at causing more than 10 new disruptive technologies, double the investment through partner backing and establish an East Africa AT Innovation hub.