Global Disability Innovation Hub & Innovate Now Unveil a £1.5m Tech Hub & Accelerator For Disability Startups in Kenya


Global Disability Innovation Hub is set to launch the world’s first Assistive Technology Innovation Accelerator in Nairobi, Kenya as part of the Innovate Now programme.

The Innovate Now accelerator is a £1.5m investment in African businesses that will provide tech support, mentorship and training to over 100 start-ups focused on people with disabilities in Kenya.

“Assistive technology has the potential to enable and empower and can be a key part of delivering the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The launch of the Innovation Ecosystem in Nairobi– a leading country in innovation– is a fantastic demonstration of the power that collaboration and partnerships can bring to make universal access to assistive technology possible around the world” said Lord Chris Holmes, MP UK Government.

GDI Hub will work with Kenyan partners to launch the accelerator in Nairobi, Kenya dedicated to supporting over 50 start-ups to develop new Assistive Technology products and services over the coming 3-5 years.

“This is a first for us,” said Bernard Chiira, Director, Innovate Now in a statement. “We know that Nairobi is a thriving hub of new technology and Startup businesses but to turn our attention to inclusion is genuinely innovative. I have seen many AT start-up’s fail because they don’t have the right support; and we know that codesigning solutions with AT users leads to the best results. We can’t wait to get going. Assistive Technology means access! Access to dignified livelihoods, work, social and economic participation.”

The aim of this programme is to bridge the ‘valley of death’ for AT start-ups, towards market and global scale. In the long-run up to 50 businesses could be supported, reaching hundreds of thousands of people with new AT products.

This programme is also part of the £20m AT2030

programme funded by UKAID with hopes to reach over 3 million people, through new technologies needed by up to 900m people globally. The Global Assistive Technology market was valued over $18m in 2017, and its value is expected to reach over $30b by 2024.

Two businesses–Motivation and Amparo– have already brought their AT innovations to this ecosystem, to be joined by many African innovators.

Applications to be part of Innovate Now are open from the 10th of June to the 10th of August 2019 here. The chosen innovators will join the accelerator for 3 months from September to November this year.

“It is a privilege to participate in the launch of the Spark Innovation sub-program focusing on the Assistive Technology Innovation Ecosystem in Kenya. We hope Kenya will become a global leader in affordable assistive technology innovation. We want to help change the lives of people living with disabilities by giving them greater mobility and dignity,” said Julius Court, Head of DFID Kenya.

In July last year, GDI Hub received £10m from DfiD to widen access to assistive technology for disabled people under its AT:2030 programme. AT:2030 was to publish a framework of interventions for people with disabilities, launch an Innovation Hub in Nairobi, and a fund to test and build the capacity and inclusiveness of people with disabilities and trial new ideas among others.

With the £10m from DfiD, GDI is expected to build 10 disruptive technologies for PWDs, reach 3 million people with assistive technologies, envision six innovative service delivery models, launch 30 new start-ups and doubling initial investment in the technologies and methodologies to shape the future.

GDI Hub was also part of a €5 million project to develop wheelchairs that can self-navigate in crowds and a £1.4 million project to develop an affordable body-powered prosthetic. GDI Hub also has plans of launching a new MSc in Disability, Design and Innovation, with full scholarships to disabled students and innovators.