Apply for TechEnabled: an intensive accelerator programme for startups in the assistive technology space

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As per the World Health Organization (WHO)’s 2020 report on disability, nearly 15 percent of the world’s population, numbering more than a billion people, live with some kind of disability. Up to 190 million people above the age of 15 have significant difficulty in functioning, and often require medical assistance in their day-to-day lives.

With advancing technology, the quality of life can be significantly improved. Assistive devices play an important role in making people with disabilities independent by improving their functions and helping with overall wellbeing. The booming startup tech ecosystem has levelled up their technology game and has become an important part of this sector. Innovative solutions are essential for the growth and success of the ecosystem, and finding solutions for movement, sensory and other disabilities which hinder a large part of the population. 

However, once the startups succeed in creating a product or a solution and find initial success in the market, it is often the case that they do not receive the kind of support and guidance they did at the entry stage, while being beset with a string of challenges linked to scaling. Moreover, a high correlation between socio-economic status and causative factors of disability (poor access to nutrition, healthcare, and even information) creates a fragmented market, and the complex nature of the product further aggravates the problems faced by entrepreneurs in this space.

It is with a view to mitigating these challenges that the UK-India Tech Hub, a UK government initiative, is launching its first-ever TechEnabled accelerator programme for startups in the assistive technology space.

A programme in the assistive technology space

The TechEnabled programme aims to provide entrepreneurs in the assistive tech space with the tools and support required to build businesses, and effectively and sustainably scale their operations, and its impact. The implementation partner for this programme is ARTILAB Foundation — a first-of-its-kind incubator working with startups in the disability sector, that is supported by the Government of India’s Department of Science and Technology and the Global Humanitarian Lab. ARTILAB Foundation’s role will be to structure and streamline the programme, and leverage their sectoral expertise and connects with key stakeholders in this ecosystem such as the NSRCEL, ISBA, and DNA.

The accelerator programme kicked off on January 8, 2021, with an insightful panel discussion on ‘Imperatives and Initiatives for making India an Assistive Technology Innovation Hub’ (Watch the panel discussion).

Encouraging startups to apply to the programme, Anubhav Jain, Country Director of UK-India Tech Hub, says, “Having been tagged as a serial entrepreneur myself with global and diverse experiences, I truly understand the challenges we entrepreneurs face. The team at the UK-India Tech Hub is motivated to solve these challenges, and are designing programmes that are looking at empowering passionate entrepreneurs through their journey. The TechEnabled programme is one of its kind, where we are working towards making our spaces more diverse and inclusive by engaging with various stakeholders, facilitating demos, introducing the right capital partners and helping founders build fundamental businesses for scale. I would like to invite all those that want to drive the right impact and scale globally.”

Who can apply?

The TechEnabled programme is designed for startups that are in the growth phase, or who have a minimum viable product (MVP) with some revenue realisation, and will focus on solutions that deal with impairments in mobility, vision, hearing, or speech. There is also a strong focus on women entrepreneurs, with dedicated sessions for them through the course of the programme.

What’s in it for startups?

The programme will provide extensive support to 20 startups from India over the period of six weeks with intensive one-on-one mentoring sessions covering product development, go-to-market strategy, and operational excellence, conducted by business leaders and academics from India and the UK. Cohort members will get opportunities to pilot their products through suitable NGO networks and corporates, and the programme will culminate in a demo session, where entrepreneurs will pitch their idea to key impact investors.

You can submit your applications here. The last date to apply is January 20, 2021, at 5 PM.

To know more about the programme, click here or write to contactus@artilab.org.

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