Innovate Now: Africa's first AT accelerator
Kenya is a country on the rise. Since 1990, Kenya has witnessed a steady increase in life expectancy, years of schooling and gross national income. A significant part of the country’s rapid advancement is linked to the tech boom that has made Nairobi famous as the Silicon Savannah, the place where smart and talented Africans creatively use technology to solve problems. Despite the overall progress, inequality rates are especially high in Kenya and people with disabilities are amongst the ones who are more often left behind, with approximately 67% of them living below the poverty line.
Innovate Now is a start-up accelerator that provides early stage AT companies in Kenya with an intensive 12-week curriculum, connections to investors and mentors, as well as a LiveLab, where founders are introduced to people with disabilities to test their ideas.
Innovate Now was launched in 2019 as part of the £40 million, UK Aid funded, AT2030 program, led by Global Disability Innovation Hub. Implemented through a consortium of partners including Amref Health Africa (lead implementing partner 2019-2021) and Kilimanjaro Blind Trust Africa (KBTA) (Live Labs implementing partner and new lead implementing partner, 2022-2024). Today's Innovation Now is a partnership between GDI Hub, KBTA, ICT Norway and Norad - the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation - bringing a new wave of momentum in the African innovation space.
GDI Hub developed a series of strategic partnerships with NGOs, DPOs, government agencies and the private sector to create an assistive technology innovation ecosystem called “Innovate Now”. The scope of the ecosystem is to support entrepreneurs, who have developed new inclusive assistive technologies, to get their products to market. Support will be provided to innovators not only in the form of additional funding and access through traditional business services, but also through research, clinical expertise and the access to LiveLab for innovation testing. The long term goal of the Innovate Now ecosystem is not only to accelerate local innovation to ensure that more people have access to assistive technology; but also to become an example of how a new inclusive innovation model, to be replicated around the globe, could revolutionise the disability innovation sector and make Kenya the world leader in assistive technology innovation.
The second level of innovation ecosystems, catering local-to-regional entrepreneurs.